Deep Creek

Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country
Pam Houston
Reviewed bby Phil

Pam Houston’s writing often explores the themes of relationships, the environment and the outdoors, animals, and childhood trauma. In her latest book, Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, she revisits all of these themes, and the overarching message is one of hope.

“How do I find hope on a dying planet, and if there is no hope to be found, how do I live in its absence? In what state of being? Respect? Tenderness? Unmitigated love? The rich and sometimes deeply clarifying dreamscape of vast inconsolable grief?” Houston asks.

By way of answer, she has written a moving memoir that reflects on her 25 years of living on a ranch in Colorado, her connection to the land, and her love for the animals with whom she shares her life.

There are so many touching vignettes in this book. There’s a story about spending hours on a bitter day breaking up the ice around a water trough because her old horse is too scared to drink out of buckets, but afraid to walk over the ice to get to the trough. Why does she do it? Because “the sun is still up and snow is in the forecast and I love my old nervous horse.”

There’s another story about walking into an area devastated by fire. Everything is blackened, dead. But there, in the midst of the destruction, she happens upon a small swamp. It’s an oasis of green in the ashes of the forest, and Houston takes it as a sign that, whatever we end up doing to the planet, it will survive in some form, with or without us.

“The language of the wilderness is the most beautiful language we have and it is our job to sing it, until and even after it is gone, no matter how much it hurts.”

Pam Houston’s collection of stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness, won the 1993 Western States Book Award and has been translated into nine languages. When not travelling for work, she lives on her ranch in the mountains of Colorado.