Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout
by Philip Connors
Set in the Gila Wilderness, this book seemed to be an appropriate read while I was on the road for my November adventure in New Mexico and Arizona. Connors, a copy editor for the Wall Street Journal, leaves his existence of a concrete city in New York City for a 7’x7′ wilderness outlook tower at 10,000 feet in the wilds of the Gila. Connors has participated as a lookout for a decade and for this book, he journals his day to day activities and contemplations for one fire season, April through August, in 2009. Each chapter is exclusive to the month with amusing ‘subtitles’ of sort……. “helicopter beer run,” “trout fishing by moonlight,” ” an encounter with the Electric Cowboy,” etc.
He is great writer and storyteller and touches on many topics including the establishment of wilderness areas (Gila was the first ever), the changing views of fire management, the problems of cattle ranching on public lands, Chief Victorio of the Apache as well as naturalist writers, Leopold and Abbey and Beat author Kerouac who was a fire lookout once in the Cascades. Connors manages weaving all of this into a beautiful reflection of nature, solitude, and our place in the wild. It’s an engaging and informative read from a writer with a typewriter in the middle of nowhere!! Connors never wants his fire season to end and I, in turn, did not want this book to end.
à la Thoreau… Connors writes ” …. since, as we know,
every day spent in a lookout is a day not subtracted
from the sum of one’s life.”
– Penny Warren, Cohort I, December 2016
Past president, Augusta Bird Club