Meet Susan

Restoring Earth and Our Connection to It

I'm a plant biologist who has a passion for restoring nature, especially right at home where we live, work and play. I have a special feel for plants and the way they weave the world's living communities, forming the green tapestry that covers this planet, and providing homes, food and the oxygen we breathe. 

I began my career as a field ecologist studying sagebrush, grizzly bears, and wildfires. I reveled in the work and the time outside in the West's expansive landscapes, but eventually I realized I loved the stories revealed in the data more than the research itself. So I taught myself how to write, not an easy trick for a scientist schooled in dispassionate, impersonal prose.

My stories rise from the intersection of head and heart, love and loss, science and storytelling, hope and grief, devastation and restoration, the well of life itself. 

Since I traded data-collection for story-telling, I've written on life and our place in it for magazines and newspapers as diverse as Audubon and Popular Mechanics, High Country News and the Los Angeles Times. My work has been heard on public radio and the Martha Stewart Living Radio Network. I’m a columnist for Rocky Mountain Gardening Magazine and a regular commentator for the Denver Post and High Country News. I've written in a variety of forms--weekly newspaper columns and radio commentaries, magazine journalism, essays for anthologies and journals, interpretive signs and displays, road guides, blogs.


The anthology What Wildness Is This includes my essay "Riding the River Home."

Writing is my way of giving voice to voices we might otherwise miss in the community of the land around us. It’s my vocation as well as my passion; it's my practice of witnessing to the astonishingly rich community we call Earth. 

My books explore explore the nature of life itself in genres including memoir, science journalism, nature essay, travel, kids, and garden writing. They are suffused with the joy I feel at being alive and part of the astonishingly rich living community we call Earth.

My work has won awards including ForeWord Book of the Year, the Colorado Book Award and the Colorado Author’s League Award (three times!)Reviewers have called my writing “graceful and moving,” “magic!,” and “rich in the wisdom of one come face-to-face with the fragility, beauty and poetics of everyday life."

Barry Lopez called Walking Nature Home “lovely, brave, inspiring.”

I’ve taught workshops at schools and writing conferences from the University of California-Riverside and Miami University of Ohio to Wofford College in South Carolina and the Tony Hillerman Writing Conference in Santa Fe. I also teach my own "Write & Retreat" series of workshops in inspiring locations around the West aimed at restoring creativity, connection and passion for writing stories that will change can change our lives and the world. Audiences as diverse as the International Xeriscape Conference, Collegiate Peaks Forum, Monte Vista Crane Festival, and the Walking Words Writing Festival have found my talks “inspiring,” "insightful,” and "life-changing." 

My presentations reflect my sense of gratitude at the gift of life itself and my belief in living mindfully and with an intention to leave this earth--at least my small part of it--in better shape than I found it.

I coach individual writers, review books and interview authors for Story Circle Book Reviews, and contribute to widely-read websites including Native Plants & Wildlife Gardening and Humans & Nature. My daily practice of noticing and appreciating life around me is reflected in the haiku and photo I post every morning on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Wildflowers bloom in a restored mountain grassland surrounding a residence built on a former industrial site.

I’m also a passionate gardener who grows an organic kitchen garden, and practices restoration landscaping--I take particular joy in bringing formerly industrial sites back to life. My restoration projects have been featured in the Rocky Mountain News, Rocky Mountain Gardening Magazine (formerly Zone 4), and on national and regional garden tours.

I live in a small, passive-solar house that I helped design and build on a reclaimed industrial parcel. It sits among restored native grasslands and wildflowers in a high-desert valley with a spectacular view of the tallest stretch of the Rocky Mountains. I’m a Quaker, step-mother to a brilliant and beautiful daughter, and part of a warm and loving nuclear family, and an involved member of the community of local food, environmental issues and the arts in my small town. I belong to Story Circle NetworkWomen Writing the West, and Colorado Author’s League.