At 31, flush with royalties from her book, Cowboys Are My Weakness, Pam Houston made a down payment on her first home, a ranch on the Upper Rio Grande in Southern Colorado. For the next 25 years, the demands of maintaining those 120 acres at 9,000 feet required a lot of her, physically and financially. But, as she says in new memoir, Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, "All the time I thought I was taking care of the ranch, the ranch was busy taking care of me."
"I can't imagine my life otherwise now," says Houston. The ranch "taught me how to be responsible, how to show up for something again and again, even when it was hard. The animals there have taught me how to die, how to be with the dying. It taught me there are safe places in the world, which I didn't have growing up. It's taught me, in as much as anything could, how to just be, 'cause I'm a doer, and the ranch insists on me being."
"It's been suggested to me by one of my colleagues at UC Davis that it's useless, if not insane, to write unironically about the natural world. But," says Houston in this more complete version of the interview, "it seems to me more important than ever to sing the beauty of the natural world, and . . . to love it in spite of its damage. Otherwise we're not . . . whole people, if we turn our backs on it just because we've beat it to death."