“Motion improves any day for me personally — the farther, the faster, the better — on a plane, a boat, a dogsled, an automobile, the back of a horse, a bus, a pair of skis, in a cabbage wagon, hoofing it down a trail in my well-worn hiking boots,” writes Pam Houston in her memoir Deep Creek: Finding Hope within the High Country. “Stillness, however, makes me very nervous.”

But decades ago, after Houston had sold her first book of short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness, her agent advised her not to spend all the money on hiking boots. So she drove around searching for a place where she might feel at ease sitting still.

A ranch nested at 9,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains captured her attention. “It had been the third week of September, and if you can’t fall in love with Colorado within the third week of September, you can’t fall in love,” she says. “Because the aspens are changing in giant, undulating swaths of Tequila Sunrise colors all around the hillsides, and the sky is blue and the air is crisp. And here was this area, with this hundred-year-old barn with a big, beautiful mountain behind it.”

She chose to trade her North Face tent for a mountain meadow. Her $21,000 deposit represented a fraction of the ranch’s price tag. But the real-estate agent told Houston that they thought the widow who was selling the home was going to like the idea of her.

Houston, 57, has often traveled not even close to her beloved ranch to create the stories that allow her to cover it. But her daring act was worth it. She learned to care for the land — also it taught her what it means to feel at home.

Experience Life | Some of what stood out in your memoir were the acts of kindness you’ve received from strangers. We’re often trained to fear people we don’t know. How have you come to be so open and trusting of strangers and individuals different from you?

Pam Houston | I been born to parents who didn’t want to be parents, and they acted that out throughout my whole childhood, that was really unfortunate. The way I was raised, I learned to distrust those who were closest and to look to the outside for support. I found that the person I didn’t know always had a chance of being kind, and more often than not they are.

In the essay “Kindness,” I write about how this total stranger — Martha Washington — came into my life when I was A couple of days old and how I basically survived my childhood because of her. She taught me to see when I was 2 ½, and today I can’t remember a period when it wasn’t important to me so that you can know what a thing is called or share my experiences by writing them down.

Over the years, there were so many people who reached out to me — teachers, babysitters, and parents’ friends. I learned to appreciate it. I’ve relied on everything my life and continue to in terms of my neighbors and the people who come here and assist me to take care of this ranch.

I’ve also had the good fortune to travel to countries where I'd three words in common with the folks I was there with, and I can’t tell you how many times those people have been kind to me.

Whether I’ve been in trouble or not, strangers have solved the problem or sat me down and served me tea simply because I was standing there and that i was another human being.

I think that most people are good and want to connect, because why the heck else shall we be here? We all probably have scarring episodes and remember the times when the interactions didn’t go well. But when we sat down and made a list of the times when someone has been doing something nice for us, I bet they’d outnumber the times when someone’s been cruel. A minimum of that’s true in my life.

EL | Why did you decide to buy a ranch on the spur of the moment?

PH | I bought it because I fell deeply in love with it the second I laid eyes on it, but the real reason happens because Dona Blair agreed to sell it to me. It seemed so impossible that — talking about the kindness of strangers — she would accept my 5 percent down and a hardcover copy of my first book, and carry the note, because in those days no bank would’ve loaned me five dollars.

I was 30. My first book had emerge and all my dreams had become a reality. I had no money. I was residing in my car. I had dropped out of grad school. There was no long view. There is just the next town which i was going to drive to and the next campground where I was likely to pitch my tent.

But it seemed so impossible when she agreed, that for me to have said no might have seemed like I was just staring generosity and fate hard. I was on a train and also the train had left the station, and to be like, “No, I want to leave the train” is just not how I’ve ever led my life.

I try to read the signs. If everything’s pushing one way, I tend to go that way. If six things line up to say, “Yeah, you should do this,” I’m not really the person who says, “No, I’m too scared.”

So, once I agreed to buy the land, everything was just a whirlwind of trying to cover it. It’s really only in the last 10 years or so, when I owned more of it than I didn’t, that I’ve had the opportunity to really even begin to think about how crazy of a move to make it was.

That I have learned from and have been given so much from the land, which the land has become the story of my entire life, is only a realization that I came to when I sat down to write this book.

EL | You obviously have a deep love of nature. What's that relationship meant in your lifetime?

PH | My mother always said, “I don’t want to see you till dinner.” So I went outside and spent hours and hours finding the nurturing and mothering that I needed from the rivers, trees, little patches of forest in suburbia, or from walks inside a city park.

I happen to love these 120 acres and also the land that surrounds it, and my heart’s all wrapped up in it, but it doesn’t need to be this. I can find beauty anywhere. I'm able to find a beautiful tree in the roughest city in a country that doesn’t care about trees in the city.

To me it’s solace. It’s healing. I feel in relationship to it in a way I don’t feel in relationship to things other people do, like malls, sporting events, or children, for that matter.

If I want to feel better, I go outside. If I can go for a walk, a swim, or perhaps a ski, it’s all the better because then I’m moving my body system and I’m interacting with it. Moving through natural space is where I find comfort and happiness. It makes me feel like my life is efficacious.