|Deep Creek by Pam Houston|
In Deep Creek, Finding Hope in the High Country, author, teacher, ranching greenhorn, and survivor, Pam Houston, takes us inside the paradox of becoming. Though we may initially think the genesis of this homecoming odyssey is Houston's purchase of a dream ranch and homestead in the Colorado Rockies, the larger revelation, as unveiled through linked essays, is how her connections to nature, animals, trauma, and eventual healing come together in perfectly imperfect ways to build a life filled with gratitude and wonder.
This is a memoir that finds its essence in those spaces where two disparate elements are held together. For instance, while the West Fork wildfire is threatening to destroy Houston's beloved ranch, she is able to stand amazed at the extreme beauty of the raging firestorm. There is a breathtaking awe to be felt in the face of the fury that might destroy everything you own. This capacity of the author to appreciate the splendor of potential devastation turns something bleak into something transformative.
Likewise, while Houston explores the grief associated with climate change, she simultaneously urges us to sing the song that is the language of wilderness and to feel a certain joy within the mourning. In this manner, one may begin to reconcile grief and hope.
Besides these themes, there is more to appreciate while reading Deep Creek. If you love animals, there are horses, mini donkeys, Icelandic sheep, Irish wolfhounds, and chickens. And then there is the glory of Colorado's San Juan Mountains and the Upper Rio Grande Basin. For those who dream of living on their very own piece of land, there is plenty to stoke that fantasy.
I was drawn to Deep Creek for many reasons. As one who lives in Colorado's San Luis Valley, I have been to the places shared by the author. To experience them through another's perspective, makes those places come alive in a new way. Houston's affection for her animals also resonates deeply with me. To read of how the land has been so significant in her becoming who she is today, reinforces my own connections to this place that is growing me into the fullness of my own being.
If you need any more reasons to read this book, read it because the writing is compelling. Read it because the author is an enigma. Read it to contemplate how you become who you are in relationship to what matters to you. Read it to celebrate the life that emerges when you dare to dance with paradox.
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