For over 25 years Pam has lived above 9000 feet surrounded by snow covered mountain peaks in Colorado. At 31 Pam’s first book, Cowboys Are My Weakness, was a success, granting her a small financial independence ($21,000) heretofore unknown to the young wordsmith, giving her the means to purchase a home (a novel concept to a young woman whose belongings fit in the trunk of her car). Remote, isolated, her 120 acre ranch is home to Pam in visceral ways. Deep Creek is the story of this woman’s bonding with the land, the way it heals and challenges her. Beautifully written with courageous honesty, it shines with an appreciation for the wilderness and the creatures that also call this Rocky Mountain aerie home. The life of a rancher in the high country is full of hard work, dangerous weather, and care for the animals who depend on compassionate handling. Walking gently on the earth, caring about the wilderness are bone deep commitments to Pam that she encourages the reader to embrace. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always engrossing, this is an absolutely lovely celebration of a life well lived.
A passionate respect for wilderness and a resolve to experience life with vigor shine throughout Deep Creek. There are hikes up into the high country, herd of Elk wandering through the meadows, the brilliant blaze of Aspens painting the fall days, and over all the embrace of dramatic 12000 feet snowcapped mountains. Pam travels, observing whales in the Northwest Inland Passage then meeting their migration in Hawaii. Her intense connection to the natural world and gift in writing clear, engaging prose give the reader an intimate account of why appreciating and valuing wilderness is important.
Pam acquired animals. Two horses, Roany and Desco, have grown old on her ranch. Icelandic sheep (Wooly Nelson is major cute) make it a working ranch, chickens for eggs. A pair of rescued miniature donkeys, Simon and Isaac joined the crew. The donkeys are playful and mischievous; Isaac has an impressive Napoleon complex that leads him into trouble occasionally. She writes with humorous affection about their adventures. Ranches are hard work, there is hay to stack, wood needed for winter, animals to be fed, fences to be mended. Pam grows into her role of woman rancher; often in winter so isolated she is the only person in the snow covered landscape for miles.
Fire season in recent years has grown, become more dangerous and destructive. In June 2013 fire found Pam’s mountains and she began to learn the jargon of firefighters. The account of that summer is intense; the tension as she watched fire devour trees, and eventually threaten her ranch will leave a lasting impression.
Surviving childhood for Pam was not only emotionally scarring, it was downright dangerous. She is open and honest about the damage caused by her alcoholic, abusive parents. That she grew into such a kind, compassionate woman is a testament to her strength of character and will to survive. She celebrates the friendships that have enriched her life, pays tribute to the ranching community that welcomed her, and shows that she takes seriously the responsibility of being a good friend and community member.
Deep Creek celebrates the land that gave Pam sanctuary and grounding, the land that brought her home. It is also a pure pleasure to read.— Deon Stonehouse
February 2019 Indie Next List
“I can’t decide if Mineral County, Colorado, is a piece of heaven or if it’s actually heaven. Either way, it is a wondrous Rocky Mountain paradise — a paradise beset by bitter cold, fires, and various degrees of hardship, but always exquisite beauty. Pam Houston has 120 acres of it, and readers get a glimpse of life and death on the ranch in this marvelous combination of memoir and nature writing. Both deeply personal and wide-reaching, Deep Creek is about the human capacity to feel grief and joy all at once for the ground beneath one’s feet and the planet as a whole.”
— Stan Hynds, Northshire Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY
"How do we become who we are in the world? We ask the world to teach us."
On her 120-acre homestead high in the Colorado Rockies, beloved writer Pam Houston learns what it means to care for a piece of land and the creatures on it. Elk calves and bluebirds mark the changing seasons, winter temperatures drop to 35 below, and lightning sparks a 110,000-acre wildfire, threatening her century-old barn and all its inhabitants. Through her travels from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska, she explores what ties her to the earth, the ranch most of all. Alongside her devoted Irish wolfhounds and a spirited troupe of horses, donkeys, and Icelandic sheep, the ranch becomes Houston’s sanctuary, a place where she discovers how the natural world has mothered and healed her after a childhood of horrific parental abuse and neglect.
In essays as lucid and invigorating as mountain air, Deep Creek delivers Houston’s most profound meditations yet on how "to live simultaneously inside the wonder and the grief…to love the damaged world and do what I can to help it thrive."
About the Author
Pam Houston is the prize-winning author of Contents May Have Shifted, among other books. She is professor of English at the University of California–Davis and lives on a ranch at 9,000 feet in Colorado near the headwaters of the Rio Grande.
There is so much beauty, wisdom, and truth in this book, I felt the pages almost humming in my hands. I was riveted and enlightened, inspired and consoled. This is a book for all of us, right now.
— Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
This book is endlessly wise, funny, and full of heart. To say that its clear-eyed, doom-laden—yet loving—message is important and timely would be an understatement. It is unapologetically sincere, utterly moving.
— Tommy Orange, author of There There
Deep Creek is a love letter to earth, animals, and the best of humanity. Pam Houston has taken our heartache and woven it back into hope. Her stories of love, loss, and a life lived in relationship to land give us good reasons not to give up on ourselves or each other. This is the book we need right now to remind us how to endure—passionately. An unstoppable heart song.
— Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Misfit’s Manifesto
Pam Houston is the rodeo queen of American letters. In Deep Creek, her voice has never been more fully realized, and her message never more important.
— Samantha Dunn, author of Not by Accident
Full of wisdom, wit, and loving attention, Pam Houston’s survey of her life and land should be required reading for anyone who loves this planet we call home.
— Camille T. Dungy, author of Guidebook to Relative Strangers
In the face of the world’s turmoil, this book is utter clarity. In the face of the world’s harshness, this book is a soft place to land…If you find yourself careening toward despair, pick up Deep Creek and read even just one page. The words there will lift you back to hope—not the sentimental kind, but the kind that can and does change the world for the better. What gratitude we owe to Pam Houston for writing it.
— B. K. Loren, author of Animal, Mineral, Radical
Houston has a great range of vision, and she’s fun to read. She gets the land right…In this perfectly American memoir, a restless heart finds its place.
— Craig Childs, author of Atlas of a Lost World
A profound and inspiring love letter to one piece of Earth—and to the rest of it, as well.
Houston's vision find a solid place among the chronicles of quiet appreciation of the American wilderness, without the misanthropy that often accompanies the genre; her passion for the land and its inhabitants is irresistibly contagious.
Always impressive, Houston is in striking form here. Her talent remains remarkable and her words extraordinarily affecting and effective.
Highly recommended as a memoir that combines nature, writing, and personal reflection.