Page Lambert grew up in the Colorado mountains, where she fell in love with harebells, wild onions, and gangly ponderosas. In her teens, she courted the North Platte River, cottonwood trees, horses and frogs. She’s been “writing nature” since the mid-80s, when she moved to a small ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming. A presenter of over 260 seminars, workshops, and conferences, in 2015 she designed and began teaching “The Writing Life,” a foundation course for the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Denver’s University College.
In September, 2015, The Denver Post ran a feature story about Lambert, “Women writers connect with nature on rivers in the West.” In 2014, The Denver Art Museum invited Lambert to speak about and read an excerpt from her epic poem The Whisper of the Land. A copy of the poem is ensconced inside the monumental sculpture by Roxanne Swentzell, Mud Woman Rolls On, commissioned by the DAM as a featured, permanent exhibit. More updates can be found on her NEWS page.
Lambert has received numerous awards for her writing, including the 2015 Writer’s Studio Best Fiction Award, two Literary Fellowships from the Wyoming Arts Council, the Colorado Authors’ League “Best Essay of the Year Award”; and the Orlando Nonfiction Award (A Room of Her Own Foundation). Her most recent novel excerpts appeared in Progenitor and Huffington Post. Her most recent essay is forthcoming in Sojourns Magazine (2016). Her books include the Wyoming memoir In Search of Kinship (hailed by the Rocky Mountain News when it was released as one of the summer’s hottest reads), and the novel Shifting Stars, a Mountains and Plains Book Award finalist. You can find her essays and poems in dozens of anthologies, including the Willa Award winning Writing Down the River, and West of 98: Living and Writing the American West.
Lambert has been leading outdoor adventures, writing seminars and workshops for eighteen years, often working in partnership with organizations such as True Nature Journeys, The Women’s Wilderness Institute, the Grand Canyon Field Institute, and the Aspen Writers’ Foundation. In 2006, Oprah’s O magazine featured her River Writing Journeys for Women as “One of the top six great all-girl getaways of the year.”
Page donates her time to the following nonprofits, serving as:
She writes from her mountain home west of Denver, Colorado, keeping busy trying to live up to her motto “Life is an adventure—Write it! Live it! Love it!”
A Personal Note from Page
Joseph Campbell says there are fateful blunders that catapult us through the doorway of our own destinies. Perhaps, at this very moment, the entire world is being thrust through the doorway of destiny by the blunders we have collectively made over thousands of years. But it’s not all about blunders. Nor even about “tipping points.” Sometimes we perform random acts of kindness that alter the course of our lives. Sometimes we inherit cultural and familial legacies that inform our destinies.
Now, more than ever, we need visionaries, forward thinkers who are willing to take huge, paradigm-shifting risks, leaders who leave legacies that model a new way of being in the world. We need writers who remind us, through stories and essays and novels and poems, that we are all visionaries, that we are all capable of great things.
My father, Loren Dunton, was a writer, a businessman, and a visionary. He loved life, and people. He believed in possibilities. He wasn’t afraid to take risks. In 1964, my parents called a family meeting and told my sister and me that Dad was going to quit his successful selling career in Denver, lease our home, take us to New York to see the World’s Fair, then drive north to Montreal, sell our station wagon, board a steamship, sail down the St. Lawrence Seaway, and take a year traveling around the world.
Ours was a middle-class family. We weren’t rich. Dad was born in a logging camp in British Columbia. Mom was raised during the depression by a deaf woman with five children to care for. (Read about the two pivotal tragedies that hurled my grandmother into her destiny in the chapter “Layers of Time in a Silent World” in my memoir In Search of Kinship.)
What are the “tipping points” that have informed your life? How do the creative gifts you give to the world help shape our collective destiny? Where have your passions led you?
Our family visited 27 countries during this year-long trip around the world. We learned how to say “please” and “thank you” in 27 different languages. We were befriended in country after country, invited into humble homes and spacious country estates. We shared meals with strangers and were later blessed by their hospitality. We spent our entire, modest nest egg but didn’t indulge ourselves with souvenirs or extravagant hotels. We took buses and handcarts and walked a lot, even in Russia at twenty-below-zero at midnight.
The day before we arrived back in Colorado, the notorious Platte River flood of 1965 struck. Our home was devastated. We returned to Denver jobless, homeless, and moneyless. But with a new understanding of how very lucky we were to be Americans. My father went on to found the financial planning profession and is now, forty years later, nationally recognized as “the Father of Financial Planning.”
Was my father, born in a logging camp, destined to leave such a lasting legacy? Was this trip around the world part of what thrust me toward my destiny? What are the “tipping points” that have informed your life? How do the creative gifts you give to the world help shape our collective destiny? Where have your passions led you?
I've been working with writers and mentoring people for nearly 15 years – teaching writing workshops and leading outdoor adventures and retreats. In 2006 Oprah's O magazine featured my River Writing Journeys for Women as "one of the top six great all-girl getaways of the year!" This was a wonderfully validating thing, but not as validating as the transformations I see occur when people rediscover the intrinsic beauty and mystery inherent in their own lives. It is this reawakening and renewed faith in the world that keeps me loving what I do.
Sometimes, loving what we do is bittersweet. For twenty years, I lived on a small ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming where I reared my son and daughter, and I loved it. More than loved it. I breathed it. The land and animals fed my work, my spirit, my body, and my soul. The literal land was the figurative clay from which I sculpted my stories. When I moved to Colorado in 2004 to take care of my mother, I was bereft. In the essay, “Living Heart to Heart with the Land” (Home Land, Ranching and a West that Works), I dive deeply into what it was like to leave the ranch.
When my mother died, she said, “Don’t worry about me. I’m just off on a new adventure!” I moved to Santa Fe a year later, but am now re-settled back in the small mountain community west of Denver where I lived as a child, and where my mother lived for 18 years. Here, I am surrounded by more than 10,000 acres of still-wild land and loving neighbors.
I often look out my window while writing and see mule deer browsing, or elk grazing. Sometimes, I see a red fox curled up in the grass. My horse is only a short 15-minute walk away. I open my heart and feel the weight of the land resting there, raw clay once again in the palm of my hands, stories waiting to be written, the bittersweet nature of life unfurling in all its poignant beauty.
(Prior to moving to the mountains of Colorado from the deserts of New Mexico, Page spent an inspiring month alone in a remote cabin in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming on a solo writing retreat: “No electricity, no computer, no television, no radio, no palm pilot, no telephone, no running water, no people – just half a dozen blank writing journals, a few good books, and the company of elk and mule deer, mountain lions and blue grouse.” She is currently working on two manuscripts drawn from her journals: Sweetwater and These Things I Can Love
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About the Photos...
The photos we take, like the stories we write, often have very personal backgrounds, things that we know but our readers and viewers don't. I'd like to share some of the history of a few of the photos on this page with you.
See the one where I'm dancing with the tall, handsome Cherokee Indian man in the red shirt? Well, that's my husband John Gritts, and we're at the big Gala for the American Indian College Fund in New York, dancing to Kevin Bacon and his band. They do fundraising for the 32 tribal colleges around the nation. If you're looking for a good cause, they're it!
See the photo with John and me standing next to a beautiful long-haired gal wearing a leather fringed vest and a swash-buckling bearded fellow next to her? Well, that's Mike and Kathleen O'Neal Gear. They raise buffalo on their big spread in Wyoming and they've written a gazillion books and they've always had more faith in me than I've had in myself. I hope you have someone like that in your life too.
There are a couple of silhouettes of me, one feeding sea gulls and the other standing with the ocean behind me, and one of me touching the trunk of a tree. Those were taken on the San Juan Islands near Seattle by Kathleen Jo Ryan, an amazing photographer, producer, and friend. Irish Traditions, Ranching Traditions, Writing Down the River, and Right to Risk are all projects of hers (the whole river trip writing thing is all her fault).
You'll notice a photo of me with my arm around my mother, with the Pacific Ocean off the Big Island of Hawaii in the background. We have a beautiful turquoise blue sarong wrapped around us. I look weary, but Mom is smiling. This was our last Christmas together, and her last Christmas with my sister Brooke and her grandson Gabriel. She looks happy, yes? She's about to head off on another great adventure.
The last photo I'll tell you about was taken 43 years ago, which is why the colors have faded to a purplish pink. I was thirteen years old and we were on our way to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. That's a reticulated python around my neck, and two cobras at my feet. I'm holding a gourd flute, dancing and smiling, in the moment, joyful, unafraid. It reminds me of the photo of me sitting in the dilapidated chair, in front of the dilapidated shack by the side of the road, on my way to Moab for a river trip.
In both photos, I have let go of worry and am embracing Life. Which is what I hope for all of us - that we will embrace our lives and fall back in love with life, with our writing, and with each other. Blessings to all you, and thank you for spending some time with me, here, in these pages.
“This is what I know. I know how to love the husband who no longer is. With every fiber. Every thought. I know how to love the son and daughter who always will be, the animals who have graced my life, the friends who wait on the far side of yesterday. This canyon. This mountain. The rain that is falling. The wood that is burning. The muted sound of my footsteps on the sodden earth. These things I can love.”
–from Sweetwater: A Mountain Cabin, a Life Unfolding, a work-in-progress by Page Lambert