I grew up in a family of outdoorsy outsiders. It was an easy transition to leave the world of high school right after graduation and become a river guide on the Colorado in Grand Canyon and other rivers. Between rafting seasons in the 1970s and 80s, I trained and worked as a fluvial geologist (focused on sediment traveling in moving water). Viewing the long history of ephemeral (drying) streams in the fossil record taught me from an early age the signs of planetary changes with regard to drought-wet cycles. My selected writings about mostly things related to water, from research as well as just plain living, are here.
Today I direct the artist and scientist residency program at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon. I believe that protected time for creative work about the environment and a community to support it are huge boosts to understanding such challenges as megadrought, water shortages, and other climate extremes — and how to respond to them.
While directing PLAYA, I’m keeping up my own writing practice, instigated by the same light and space that inspire our residents.
I’ve been fortunate to receive support for my work, from the Fulbright Association and Fulbright Canada, the Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers, the Waterston Desert Writing Prize, and Women Writing the West (with their WILLA Award for my novel Junction, Utah). If you’re a writer focused on subjects important to these organizations, apply to them. Elevate your work.
I’ve been recognized with a Best American Science and Nature Writing Award nomination and Pushcart Prize nominations in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Recently (2018) I was named a finalist for Arizona State University’s Cli-Fi Short Story Award for my story “Tuolumne River Days.” I’ve also been a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Best Nature Book of the Year, Southwest Review’s David Nathan Meyerson Fiction Prize, and the Chautauqua Fiction Prize. Check out all those publications, as they’re always looking for new and unique voices, and it’s helpful to get votes of confidence from folks who know what they’re doing.
Preparing my new collection of essays, The Oasis this Time: Living and Dying with Water in the West (2019, Torrey House Press) has meant too much time at the desk and not enough on rivers, but they and their beauty are never far from my heart.
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