No shoes, no problem

  With bats in the attic, skunks and marmots under the floor, deer mice in the corners and cluster flies throughout the house, Kathleen Meyer may want to sleep on the deck, but at least she no longer has to shit in the woods.


In Barefoot Hearted: A Wild Life Among Wildlife, Meyer, author of the trail sanitation classic, How to Shit in the Woods, describes her life roughing it in Montana's Bitterroot Valley.


She and her partner, farrier Patrick McCarron, bunk down in a dairy barn they claim as home, enjoying the night sounds. But when bats, skunks and flies come knocking, they don't go for their guns or call the exterminator. Meyer, instead, does research to understand her house guests, deciding that it might make more sense to just accommodate them.


This is a book as much about Meyer's relationship with McCarron as it is a tale of a city girl coming to terms with country life. Meyer was born in New York and raised in New Jersey and California, but came to know the West better than most - at one point, she and Patrick traveled by covered wagon through Wyoming, Montana and Colorado.


Meyer and McCarron settled 10 years ago in the Bitterroot Valley, where they watched their two-lane valley morph, like so many others, into a five-lane highway. As in her first unlikely best seller, Meyer handles her own story with a sharp wit and a clean style.


Barefoot Hearted: A Wild Life Among Wildlife. By Kathleen Meyer. Villard Books, Random House Inc. New York, Hardcover: $24.95. 313 pages.