In this, her second memoir, New Prairie Woman is Susie Rosso Wolf’s depiction of her journey from Los Angeles to the historical town of Three Forks, Montana. On these pages you will discover the grandeur of “The Last Best Place” through her writing, poetry and photography, the challenges of living in a twenty foot trailer in sub-zero temperatures and how love, perseverance, and the miracle of faith can lift a soul up from the depths of the deepest, darkest waters.
Born in Santa Monica, California, I was raised in the small bedroom community of Sunkist Park that borders Culver City, Playa del Rey, Mar Vista and Venice. I attended Venice High School, West LA Community College and California Institute of the Arts. My studies included English, English Literature, Poetry, Creative Writing, Choir, Classical Voice, Shakespeare, Musical Theater, Television and Film Acting and Art History. In 1980, I relocated to the Pacific Northwest and in 1982 I married Kurt Wolf in Corvallis, Oregon. During the course of our long journey together, I have remained devoted to not only my husband, but to my friends and family, and the arts. What defines me most is my passion for expression through art. I’m an avid reader, writer and poet.I also enjoy painting and photography. Additionally, some folks consider me a pretty good cook.
Early the next morning after the big storm Cutter and Dinky sat up and growled and then broke into a full bark that preceded a light wrapping on our trailer door. Kurt jumped up, threw on his jeans while I slid deeper under the covers making sure I wasn't exposed in any way. The moment I heard his voice I was relieved, finally someone came by to check on us. The first words out of his mouth were if we were all right. My heart jumped with excitement knowing that he cared. As if the old Robert were back and all the drama and trauma and hurtful pain were finally, completely behind us. Yes, in that moment I truly felt that Robert had put it all aside so that we could move on from our mistakes and become a loving, caring, family. I felt it so deeply that my face broke out in a wide giggly smile as I heard him enter the trailer with his enormous feet in the giant heavy snow boots each footstep resonating on the hollow trailer floor as his words rang out in his deep bass toned voice, “Hey lazy get your butt out of bed.”
“Good morning Robert. To what do we owe the honor of this visit?” I asked in an over exaggerated British accent just goofing around.
“Oh I just thought I’d come by and check in on you city slicks. Ya’ll warm enough in this thang? It’s darned cold out there.” Right away Kurt answered his question by describing the power and reliability of the heater unit built into the trailer.
“ Oh yeah, this thing cranks out the heat man, it’s plenty warm in here,” Kurt said as he tapped the heater unit that was installed into the wall next to the kitchen sink.
“Well that’s good. Now ya’ll just need to get out to Murdock’s and get some real winter wear or you’re gonna freeze your hiney’s off.”
“We have plenty of coats and jackets,” Kurt answered.
“You might think the stuff you brought from LA is warm enough but I’m gonna tell you right now no matter what you brought up here it ain’t warm enough and ya’ll got to get out to Murdoch’s and get yourselves some Carhart’s and some warm enough boots and socks and gloves you need thermal underwear and something to cover your big ugly heads or you will freeze out there.” He was teasing us now but also very serious in his message. My heart skipped a beat knowing his concern and I felt like a schoolgirl with a mad crush and giggled to myself that I was happy about the attention he was showing us, the interest he gave in our wellbeing. I remember asking myself why I cared so much about him and any time that he spared for us, as I listened to him describe to Kurt in detail what we needed to purchase so that we could survive the cold weather that we were about to experience in full measure for months on end. I quickly answered my question as I rolled over on the bed a little to look up at him while he spoke; it was because I loved him. I really loved this kid, who wasn’t a kid anymore. I really loved him. His hazel eyes shined in the early morning light that came peeking through the tiny trailer window shades in a snow-covered intensity so bright it was indescribable. He was a beautiful little golden boy and now he is a beautiful man with dark hair, thick dark eyebrows, perfectly trimmed mustache and the olive skin of our Italian ancestors blended so well with those eyes of his mother’s. Yes, I loved this kid who became a man while I wasn’t looking. At least, by all appearances he was a man. Robert had pronounced his manhood when he was fifteen years old but we all knew he was just a child. Constantly telling all of his family that “I’m a man now.” A real man does come by his aunt and uncle’s trailer to check on them and to instruct them about the type of winter wear they need to stay warm in the severe elements, doesn’t he? Yes, he has become a man. Perhaps the lessons of the past issues and his rejection of me, of us, has helped him become even more of a man now, I contemplated, as he and Kurt talked on about what we should expect to come in the next couple of months in Montana. “Just remember one thing ya’ll, you’re always welcome up at the house if things get too rough out here. Okay? And if ya’ll need anything you let me know. Keep your cell phones charged and your curtains closed and that will help keep the heat in. And by the way, I’ve been meaning to tell ya’ll that you need to watch out for coyotes. It really isn’t coyote season but they’re getting hungrier the colder it gets up top the mountains so watch for them coming right down this hill here and looking on at these guys. Keep your eyes and ears open all the time out here, this is still the frontier prairie and the critters still rule around these parts, okay? It doesn’t take much for a coyote to take down a domestic dog. ”
Kurt and I looked at each other and then in concert we both looked down at the dogs with fear and worry. Robert recognized our concern and reminded us that we can listen to the calls and screams of the coyotes which will warn us to get the dogs inside the trailer. “Kurt, won’t you be scared now to go potty outside at night?” Immediately upon asking my question both Kurt and Robert broke out in hysterical laughter with their faces turning bright red and their eyes rolling in their heads and Robert’s belly jiggled and Kurt began to cough uncontrollably.
“Oh Kurtie don’t be scared to go potty out in the dark the big bad coyotes won’t get you!” Robert teased Kurt in a high pitched voice attempting to imitate a child while he cracked up so hard he too began to cough. I glared at both of them with my best stink eye pretending to be offended by their behavior. I guess my question was fairly girlish, very weak in their minds, so I began to laugh along with them at the thought of my husband going “potty” outdoors in the dark night on the prairie with wild coyotes lurking about. I could see the humor, indeed, so I too laughed and laughed as they instructed me in the proper way to address a man’s outdoor urination experience.
“It’s called taking a leak not going potty, dear.” Kurt was shaking his head and giving me a look as if he thought I was an idiot.
“Well I’m sorry but I’m not accustomed to speaking man language about peeing in the woods or on the prairie or wherever we are so excuse me.” They continued to tease me for several more minutes and then Robert decided to head back to the big house so he could get ready for work and head out to Bozeman.
“Ya’ll have a good day and make sure you get into Murdoch’s for some good gear, ya hear me?”
“Yeah man, we were heading in to the bank for some final business on the loan anyway. I think we’re signing the papers today and we’re stopping by Montana Homes of Belgrade to meet our general contractor on the build. We’ll stop by Murdoch’s on the way out,” Kurt explained.
“All right then, that’s good. I’m glad ya’ll are breaking ground soon, I’m happy for you.”
“Thanks Rob!” Both Kurt and I said together.
Later that morning we made our way up to the big house to use the bathroom to get cleaned up and to let Brenda and April know that we would be gone for several hours. Neither one of us mentioned the events of the day before and the fact that they refused to answer my frantic calls. We decided to drop the subject and ignore what had happened. Brenda knocked on the bathroom door while I was brushing my teeth. We talked for a few minutes while I rinsed my mouth and washed my face then brushed out my long hair and then made two braids. She asked what we were going to do, if we were leaving or staying and if we were leaving could I pick her up a couple of packs of cigarettes and she would pay me back soon. She never once looked into my eyes. She looked around at the decorations in her bathroom, fiddled with the hanging guest towels, grabbed her hairbrush off the sink, but she never looked at me. I explained that I would buy the cigarettes for her if we would be near a store that sold cigarettes. “Thanks Sue,” She said.
“You’re welcome Brenda.” She turned and walked back down the hall to her bedroom. I looked at myself in the mirror while shaking my head, turning my eyes up with a typical Susie attitude, wiped my mouth after rinsing then headed out the back door.