Twenty Words During Lockdown, Day 7: Dance

By Pam Houston

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These 20 words were assigned to Pam Houston by her friend, the writer and photographer Kyle Wolff, as part of Project 2020 (Quarantine Edition). She gave Pam and others a word most mornings, and the assignment to write to that world and either take or find a photo to go with it. These 20 words and photographs by Pam Houston are appearing daily in Terrain.org through June 20, the summer solstice.

April 1, 2020


I got married a year and a half ago, here at the ranch in the driest summer in 25 years, except for my wedding day when it rained and rained. It was a blessing, on the marriage, of that I am sure.

Because I got married so late in life, it was a little like attending my own memorial service. Almost everyone in this world who loves me was there, expressing their love, and I will never forget their words, their hugs, how we pressed our faces together for photos as if we wanted to be made from the same skin. 

We had a tent (the ranch house is tiny) and all I can say is I am glad the tent rental company talked me into paying for that third side. It was August 18th and it was the first time it rained all summer. The pasture that year just never came up.

We said our vows outside as the clouds gathered, and just as we got into the tent for a meal of all Colorado homegrown products (Pueblo chilies and Palisade peaches and Rocky Ford melon and Blue Lake green beans) the sky opened.

We had a band, and they were old too, the drummer came with his own oxygen tank, but they were good and lively.

Over the last decade I have developed a dozen or more relationships with young writers. I start out as a mentor and it moves from there into something more like an auntie, and sometimes, depending on the circumstances, I go all the way to surrogate mom. The richness of it is almost unspeakable. 

Anyway, here we are, dancing.  




Pam HoustonPam Houston is the author of the memoir Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, which won the 2019 Reading the West Advocacy Award, as well as five other books of fiction and nonfiction, all published by W.W. Norton. She lives at 9,000 feet above sea level on a 120-acre homestead near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. A book co-written with activist Amy Irvine, Air Mail: Letters of Politics, Pandemics, and Place, is forthcoming from Torrey House Press in October 2020.   Read Pam Houston’s Letter to America in Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy, published by Terrain.org and Trinity University Press and view a video of Pam reading her Letter to America as part of a Dear America town hall.

Photos courtesy Pam Houston.


Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.