Articles by Rebecca Lawton

Immersion

“Swimming Grand Canyon is a most unusual take on the place, contained in quirky poems from Lawton’s life on her way downstream . . . Lives loved, loves lost, detours, and roads not taken. Her writing is beautiful and rich. Each poem is carefully crafted, and each line points directly to its target. Metaphors for our lives burst into our consciousness and deepen our own experience. Every poem is an unexpected gem, its own universe. Whatever you think these poems will be—they are not that.” —Christopher Brown [...]

Refuge

“Dog Days are approaching; you must, therefore, make both hay and haste while the Sun shines, for when old Sirius takes command of the weather, he is such an unsteady, crazy dog, there is no dependence upon him.” [...]

Lovely

Ed Abbey had joined a Colorado River trip I'd guided in summer 1975, soon after he'd written The Monkey Wrench Gang (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1975). The book was about to hit the shelves and would become a literary and cultural phenomenon. He didn't reveal anything about the Gang, and we didn't ask, but as we floated Cataract, he'd already orchestrated the lives and acts of Hayduke and Seldom Seen and Bonnie and Doc. [...]

History

All through March, I wanted to compile a list of women who've made history running rivers—but stopped each time. Why only a month? I asked. Why can't March—and all months—be about a thing called The People's History? How amazing we would feel as a body united, not splintered into factions we observe according to Presidential designation. [...]

Bubble

"We don't grieve in a bubble," my bereavement counselor tells me. She's been advising me about grief, not only as an experience, but as a process and opportunity for learning. There's been no way to talk about the death of my father late last year without framing it within 2020's overwhelming and worldwide losses. Piled on top of those, grief feels bigger. Cumulative. We build grief debt, as others have called the build-up of loss upon loss upon mounting loss. [...]

Soul

When I was a river guide I carried Barry Lopez's River Notes in my ammo box. I liked to lend it to the passengers or read essays from it aloud on my raft. In 2015, I told Barry about its importance to me the first time we had a conversation of more than a few words. He looked at me carefully for a minute and went back to his work. Later I learned through his wife Debra Gwartney how uncomfortable he was hearing that kind of praise. Maybe the words cast him as a god in a way that put pressure on our friendship. [...]

Lifelines

Staying alive on the 2020 rollercoaster ride has meant taking shelter—and finding connections where we can. This year's traditional year-end list of resources for writers and readers features a few favorite literary and environmental lifelines from the past twelve months. [...]

Forward

The young man standing six feet behind me offers to buy my drink.

I’ve wandered up the river to Main Street to mail a letter at our small-town post office. Making an unplanned stop at the local coffee shop, I’ve asked for a golden latté and ginger scone. Rung up and ready to pay the shop’s one barista before she fills my order, I’ve realized my wallet must be sitting on the kitchen island back home. [...]

Data

On the river trail yesterday, a shiny U.S. Geological Survey stream gauge was hard at work among the rocks. New since September, the gauge is likely reading discharge (quantity of flow), water temperature, and water level. This one's not online yet, but it's sure to be gathering data every fifteen minutes. [...]

Options

"Failure is not an option," words famously uttered by Ed Harris as NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz in the 1995 movie Apollo 13, weren't really his. Instead, they were coined during the film's creative process. [...]