Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout

( 22 )

Overview

A decade ago Philip Connors left work as an editor at the Wall Street Journal and talked his way into a job far from the streets of lower Manhattan: working as one of the last fire lookouts in America. Spending nearly half the year in a 7' x 7' tower, 10,000 feet above sea level in remote New Mexico, his tasks were simple: keep watch over one of the most fire-prone forests in the country and sound the alarm at the first sign of smoke.

Fire Season is Connors's remarkable ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (31) from $9.67   
  • New (11) from $9.67   
  • Used (20) from $17.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 2
Showing 1 – 10 of 11 (2 pages)
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$9.67
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(4438)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
New Book. Shipped from UK within 4 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000.

Ships from: Horcott Rd, Fairford, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$17.99
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(17429)

Condition: New
Brand New, Perfect Condition, Please allow 4-14 business days for delivery. 100% Money Back Guarantee, Over 1,000,000 customers served.

Ships from: Westminster, MD

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$18.99
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(75)

Condition: New
New Ships from the UK. BRAND NEW Your purchase also supports literacy charities. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a ... return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Dunfermline, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$18.99
Seller since 2013

Feedback rating:

(5)

Condition: New
2012 Paperback A Brand New copy, unused and unread. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you ... will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Hereford, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$18.99
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(0)

Condition: New
2012 Paperback Brand new book. Fast shipping form our UK warehouse in eco-friendly packaging. Fast, efficient and friendly customer service. Please note that this item is being ... sent from United Kingdom, allow 4-14 days for delivery. All the orders are shipped same or next working day. Fast and friendly customer service. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$18.99
Seller since 2013

Feedback rating:

(5)

Condition: New
2012 Paperback A Brand New copy, unused and unread. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you ... will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Hereford, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$18.99
Seller since 2013

Feedback rating:

(5)

Condition: New
2012 Paperback A Brand New copy, unused and unread. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you ... will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Hereford, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$18.99
Seller since 2013

Feedback rating:

(5)

Condition: New
2012 Paperback A Brand New copy, unused and unread. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you ... will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Hereford, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$19.68
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(4)

Condition: New
2012 Paperback New, but some minor shop soiling. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will ... be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Royston, United Kingdom

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$30.40
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(258)

Condition: New
Brand New Item.

Ships from: Chatham, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 2
Showing 1 – 10 of 11 (2 pages)
Close
Sort by
Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99
BN.com price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.

Overview

A decade ago Philip Connors left work as an editor at the Wall Street Journal and talked his way into a job far from the streets of lower Manhattan: working as one of the last fire lookouts in America. Spending nearly half the year in a 7' x 7' tower, 10,000 feet above sea level in remote New Mexico, his tasks were simple: keep watch over one of the most fire-prone forests in the country and sound the alarm at the first sign of smoke.

Fire Season is Connors's remarkable reflection on work, our place in the wild, and the charms of solitude. The landscape over which he keeps watch is rugged and roadless—it was the first region in the world to be officially placed off limits to industrial machines—and it typically gets hit by lightning more than 30,000 times per year. Connors recounts his days and nights in this forbidding land, untethered from the comforts of modern life: the eerie pleasure of being alone in his glass-walled perch with only his dog Alice for company; occasional visits from smokejumpers and long-distance hikers; the strange dance of communion and wariness with bears, elk, and other wild creatures; trips to visit the hidden graves of buffalo soldiers slain during the Apache wars of the nineteenth century; and always the majesty and might of lightning storms and untamed fire.

Written with narrative verve and startling beauty, and filled with reflections on his literary forebears who also served as lookouts—among them Edward Abbey, Jack Kerouac, Norman Maclean, and Gary Snyder—Fire Season is a book to stand the test of time.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Donovan Hohn
Many of us have probably on at least one cubicle-gray afternoon dreamed of lighting out in a rented U-Haul for some territory or other. Few who've acted on the impulse have made as excellent use of a sabbatical as Philip Connors has, and there are few territories left as wild and grand and as richly meaningful, or as spectacularly combustible, as the one Connors found almost a decade ago—New Mexico's Gila Wilderness, the first designated wilderness in the history of the world, which also happens to be, as Connors puts it in his finely, wryly, at times poetically wrought first book, "the epicenter of American wildfire."
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
For almost a decade, former Wall Street Journal reporter Connors has spent half a year keeping vigil over 20,000 square miles of desert, forest, and mountain chains from atop a tower 10,000 feet above sea level. One of a handful of seasoned, seasonal fire-watchers in New Mexico's Gila National Forest, Connors introduces us to his wilderness in this ruminative, lyrical, occasionally suspenseful account that bristles with the narrative energy and descriptive precision of Annie Dillard and dovetails between elegiac introspection and a history of his curious and lonely occupation. Poet Gary Snyder, environmental advocate Edward Abbey, and beat novelist Jack Kerouac once stood watch over the woods, but today, 90% of American lookout towers have been decommissioned, with only a few hundred remaining. The world at large intrudes in Connors's account of contented isolation only in a discussion of evolving forest fire–fighting policies, in which advocates of ruthlessly suppressing fires are pitted against a new generation of Forest Service professionals who choose, when it's safe, to let forest fires burn themselves out. (Apr.)
New West
“Entertaining and informative. . . . Connors mixes natural, personal, and literary history in this remarkable narrative.”
Denver Post
“[R]ife with breathtaking moments. . . . [T]o turn the last page of Fire Season is to emerge from a journey that enlightens and leaves the reader hungry for more.”
The Tucson Citizen
“Fascinating. . . . Connors’ narrative is crisp and accessible.”
Vail Daily
“This book captures all that is grand about our western wilderness.”
Deseret News
“For those lacking the freedom, gumption or plain will power to taste such a romantic life for themselves, simply reading Connors’ account sure is fun.”
Bloomberg News
“[C]harming. . . . [Connors is] a careful observer delighting in nature and aware of what threatens it.”
Men's Journal
“[A] lyrical, masterly debut from a first-class writer.”
New Mexico Magazine
“Compelling and introspective, Fire Season lingers like a good poem.”
AARP Magazine
“[A]n engaging and highly readable mix of wilderness reflection, ode to solitude, and reasoned assault on forestry techniques.”
San Francisco Book Review
Fire Season is a beautiful narrative, evoking a reverent appreciation for protecting some of nature’s remaining wild places.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[A] fascinating, pyro-charged reflection. . . . For a man so drawn to solitude, Connors has a particular knack for writing characters. . . . [Fire Season] proves a nifty way to shake off the last of winter’s cold.”
BookPage
“[A] stunning gift of a memoir. . . . [A] profound (and at times hilariously profane) perspective on the relationship between humans and the earth. . . . Passionate and funny, Fire Season is an exciting new addition to the canon of American nature writing.”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“This is a book for all nature lovers, and more importantly, those who fail to see the beauty of the natural world. Connors’ prose is so mesmerizing, so enthralling, that even the most committed city dweller will be tempted to head for a remote, quiet destination.”
National Parks Traveler
“An excellent book, an entertaining read, and a lot of food for thought. . . . Without doubt, this was the most enjoyable read I’ve had all year.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A fine prose stylist with a splendid eye for detail, Connors allows his readers to see the natural beauty he witnesses. . . . All lovers of nature will understand the allure and wonder that Connors so gracefully describes.”
Booklist
“[A] poetic, thoroughly researched, thrilling account of [Connors’] job as a fire lookout. . . . [I]lluminates the joys of solitude and the complicated nature of life in a volatile, untamable environment.”
Paris Review Daily
“[A] fascinating personal narrative . . . and a poetic tribute to solitude and the natural world.”
Associated Press Staff
“[R]eading this book is like taking a vacation in beautiful scenery with an observant and clever guide. So relax and enjoy.”
Seattle Times
“[E]ngaging. . . . [Connors] sends thoughtful word from deep in the wilderness. . .”
Outside magazine
“[F]ull of wry wisdom and humor. . . . [O]ne of the best books to come out of a government gig since Ed Abbey turned a ranger’s wage into Desert Solitaire.”
The New Yorker
“[A] compelling study of isolation, wildness, and ‘a vocation in its twilight’.”
Portland Mercury
“A clear overview of America’s shifting attitude toward its own wilderness. . . . [H]is affection is catching.”
Los Angeles Times
“[A] quietly moving love letter to a singular place. By the last page, I wanted to hike up to the tower, sip some whiskey with him and just look.”
New York Times Book Review
“[A] finely, wryly, at times poetically wrought first book. . . . Connors has succeeded in weaving many stories into one [and has found] a voice and new literary life in arid terrain where I, for one, had suspected there was little new life to be found.”
Daily Beast
“[T]his is modern nature writing at its very finest.”
Mountain Gazette
“Philip Connors is the typical run-of-the-mill U.S. Forest Service employee. Except, you know, he can write like hell. . . . This book is great, like Norman-Maclean-’Young-Men-and-Fire’ great.”
Outside Magazine
"[F]ull of wry wisdom and humor. . . . [O]ne of the best books to come out of a government gig since Ed Abbey turned a ranger’s wage into Desert Solitaire."
Nina MacLaughlin
“[A]n exultant take on the natural world. . . . [Connors] describes his lookoutry with understated exuberance, an engaging and measured enthusiasm for being alone in a beautiful place.”
Philip Gourevitch
“What a wonderful book. Philip Connors went up to the mountaintop to serve as a lookout—and he has come down with a masterwork of close observation, deep reflection, and hard-won wisdom. This is an unforgettable reckoning with the American land.”
Annie Proulx
“An excellent, informative, and delightful book.”
Walter Kirn
"In an age of relentless connectivity, Philip Connors is a conscientious objector. His adventures in radical solitude make for profoundly absorbing, restorative reading. The soul that learns to keep its own company, this book reminds us, can never be alone."
Alexandra Fuller
“FIRE SEASON is an urgent, clear, bright book; it is both lyrical enough to arrest breath and absolutely compelling, reminding us why we need fire, solitude, wilderness. Find room on your bookshelf next to Wallace Stegner and Norman Maclean; Philip Connors is here to stay.”
Barry Lopez
“FIRE SEASON is enlightening and well-informed...and Philip Connors is a most welcome new voice.”
Thomas Lynch
“Philip Connors has crafted a book illumined by the gob-smacked, wide-eyed, inquisitional wonder at creation. . . . Fire Season is for pilgrims, pedestrians, hikers and anchorites, city dwellers, and solitary sorts: a treat for the senses, fit for the long haul. Bravo!
WALTER KIRN
“In an age of relentless connectivity, Philip Connors is a conscientious objector. His adventures in radical solitude make for profoundly absorbing, restorative reading. The soul that learns to keep its own company, this book reminds us, can never be alone.”
Library Journal
Between tales of sweeping out rat droppings from the two-room cabin or flyfishing by moonlight or describing the environmental issues of fire suppression, former Wall Street Journal copy editor Connors deftly weaves his personal story and shares the joys of working solo five months each year as a U.S. Forest Service wilderness lookout, watching over thousands of acres for sources of forest fires—from lightening strikes to poorly extinguished campfires. Narrator Sean Runette brings Connors's writing alive. Fire Season reminds one of Bill Bryson's Walk in the Woods (minus Bryson's zany humor). Highly recommended for adults and older teens. [The Ecco pb will publish in February 2012.—Ed.]—M. Gail Preslar, formerly with Eastman Chemical Co. Business Lib., Kingsport, TN
Kirkus Reviews

Former Wall Street Journal editor Connors ruminates on his eighth summer in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico.

A small, glass-walled perch on stilts on the middle of nowhere—a fit milieu for misfits, from the curmudgeon to the bliss-seeker, as Edward Abbey and Jack Kerouac so amply demonstrated—but Connors brings a fresh eye to the fire-lookout job. He combines explanations of his interest in the vocation with a professional's thoughtful considerations on the role of fire in the greater environmental good. He is there (with his dog, an important character) for a multitude of well-considered reasons: to witness, undiluted, an eclipse, lightning, sandstorm and fire (watching "pine trees explode in a blue ball of smoke"). He is also there to master the act of solitude: "Once you struggle through that swamp of monotony where time bogs down in excruciating ticks from your wristwatch, it becomes possible to break through to a state of equilibrium, to reach a kind of waiting and watching that verges on what I can only call the holy." For him, there is no better job on Earth. With balance and experienced insight, he provides sharp discussions of burn policy and our rich, evolving understanding of fire ecology. Meanwhile, if suspicious plumes aren't calling, the author revels in nighthawks, ladybugs, long walks and the squid-ink dark of a moonless night.

Print journalist and fire lookout: When it comes to paying jobs, Connors has a death wish, but he has made the very best of it.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781447208143
  • Publisher: Pan Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/28/2012

Meet the Author

Philip Connors has worked as a baker, a bartender, a house painter, a janitor, and an editor at the Wall Street Journal. His essays have appeared in n+1, Harper's, the Paris Review, and the Best American Non-required Reading anthology. He lives in New Mexico with his wife and their dog.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Fire Season

Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout
By Philip Connors

HarperCollins

Copyright © 2011 Philip Connors
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-185936-6


Chapter One

The Black Range was once a part of Apache country, one of the major reasons it was slow in coming under the domain of the American government. Geronimo was born to the west near the forks of the Gila River; his fellow chief Victorio, of the Warm Springs Apache, made his home just to the north, at Ojo Caliente, though he knew the Black Range intimately, having used it as a hunting ground and refuge from the summer heat. He and his Chihenne followers fought the U.S. cavalry here as late as 1880, and a number of Buffalo Soldiers and their Navajo scouts did not have the luck to leave the Black Range alive. Their graves can still be found if you know where to look.

For me, the first leg of the trip to the crest is simple and comfortable: a climate-controlled pickup truck, Satchmo on the stereo, my dog Alice on the seat beside me. We glide across the bed of an ancient inland sea, which locals call the flats. Beyond the little town of Gaylord the road curves to contour with Trout Creek, a stream with sources high in the mountains, denuded in the lower elevations by decades of overgrazing. At Embree, population three dozen, the road leaves the creek to begin its climb through the foothills. For fifteen miles there's not a straightaway long enough to allow me to pass a slow vehicle. Locals, if they see me come up behind them, will pull into one of the gravel turnouts and offer a wave as I pass, but if I find myself behind tourists, I will dial down my speed and practice the virtues of charity and patience. It is a magnificent drive, and I can hardly fault them for taking it leisurely.

I can't help but hurry, despite the sweeping views. Where I'm headed the views are a whole lot better, and besides I've been gone too long. Seven months of hustle in the world below provide more than sufficient acquaintance with the charms of my winter career. But that is behind me now—or rather, I should say, beneath me.

Norman Maclean once wrote that "when you work outside of a town for a couple of months you get feeling a lot better than the town and very hostile toward it." I felt hostile and superior before I even left. Tending bar will do that to a man, although it also allows him to leave on short notice, and in so doing hurt no one's feelings but those of the regulars who've come to depend on his ear.

More than one winter has found me working in a Silver City dive that beckons to the thirsty with a classic neon sign of a cactus in the foreground and a horseman drifting alone into the distance. My most reliable customer was an Oklahoma hillbilly with a Santa Claus beard, whose wit and wisdom is best exemplified by a statement I've heard more than once from his beer-foamed lips: "Thing about them Aye-rabbs, they breed faster'n we can shoot 'em. Kinda like them Kennedys." Weekend entertainment brought the biggest crowds and the best money, courtesy of heavy-metal bands with evocative names such as Dirtnap, Bowels Out, and New Mexican Erection. It all makes for an interesting counterpoint to summers spent alone far from town, but I'm tired of playing the role of enabler-priest in an unholy chapel.

At Wright's Saddle my drive is over, though the real pleasures of the journey have just begun. In a supply shack cluttered with helicopter sling nets and cases of military-style MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat), I leave eight boxes to be packed in later by mule, each box marked with its weight, to help the packers balance their animals. The boxes contain books, dry and canned food, dog food, two cases of double-A batteries, a Frisbee, a mop head, a bow saw, an ax bit. I double-check my own pack for all the immediate necessities: maps, binoculars, handheld VHF radio, freeze-dried food, my typewriter, some magazines, some whisky. Certain I've left nothing vital behind, I begin the final stretch of what has to be one of the sweetest commutes enjoyed by any hardworking American anywhere. Alice leaps about, wagging her question-mark tail. She feels the same way I do.

Five and a half miles await me, five and a half miles of toil and sweat, nearly every inch of it uphill, with fifty pounds of supplies on my back. I can feel right off that winter has again made me soft. My gluteal muscles burn. My knees creak. The shoulder straps on my pack appear to want to reshape the curve of my collarbones. The dog shares none of my hardships. She races to and fro off the trail, sniffing the earth like a pig in search of truffles, while from the arches of my beleaguered feet to the bulging disk in my neck—an old dishwashing injury, the repetitive stress of bending forward with highball glasses by the hundred—I hurt. Not many people I know have to work this hard to get to work, yet I can honestly say I love the hike, every step of it. The pain is a toll I willingly pay on my way to the top, for here, amid these mountains, I restore myself and lose myself, knit together my ego and then surrender it, detach myself from the mass of humanity so I may learn to love them again, all while coexisting with creatures whose kind have lived here for millennia.

Despite human efforts to the contrary, it remains pretty wild out here.

Along the path to the peak the trail curves atop the crest of the Black Range first to the west, then back to the east, always heading eventually north. Despite the wild character of the country, there is evidence of the human hand all along the way, not least in the trail itself, an artificial line cut through standing timber. The wilderness boundary too speaks of a human imprint: a metal sign nailed to a tree suggests you leave your motorized toys behind. Halfway to the top the trail passes an exquisite rock wall, handiwork of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, when the New Deal put thousands of Americans to work on the public lands of the West. The wall holds the line against a talus slope above it, keeping the loose rock from swamping the trail. Seventy years later the wall is as solid as the day it was built, as is the lookout tower where I'm headed, another CCC project that replaced the original wooden tower built in the 1920s.

For a while thereafter the trail follows an old barbed-wire fence, a relic of a time, not that long ago, when cattle grazed these hills. High on the trunks of old firs and pines hang a few white ceramic insulators, which once carried No. 9 telephone line down from the lookout. Having spent something like a thousand days in this wilderness over the past decade, I've noticed all of these features of the hike many times. And yet there are always surprises: a tree shattered by lightning, a glimpse of a black bear, the presence, in a twist of mountain lion scat, of a tiny mammalian jawbone—evidence of the dance of predator and prey.

The surprise this time arrives a half mile below the peak: a stretch of hip-deep snow. It swallows the trail amid an aspen grove on the north slope, and there is no shortcut from here, nothing to do but slog on through. For a few steps I'm fine. The crust holds. Then it collapses beneath me, and I posthole to about midthigh. I try to lift one leg, then the other, but I feel as if I'm stuck in quicksand. I'm not going anywhere unless I lose my pack.

With its weight off my back I can extricate myself, but there remains the problem of how I'm going to get both it and myself through the next 800 yards. Upright on two legs, 220 pounds of flesh and supplies on a vertical axis, I will continue to sink and struggle. The snow is wet and granular, melting fast; in just a few weeks it will be gone. But not yet. There is nothing to do but become a four-legged creature, distribute my weight and the weight of my pack horizontally, and crawl. Alice looks at me as if I've lost my marbles—she even barks twice, sensing we're about to play some kind of game—but now when I punch through the surface crust I don't plunge as deep, and with the aid of my arms I can drag myself along, bit by bit, crablike up the slope. Alice runs ahead, returns, licks my face, chews a hunk of snow, bolts away again—she's delighted by my devolution to four-legged creature, though I can't say I feel likewise. All I can see from this vantage is an endless field of white broken only by tree trunks, and I possess neither her agility nor her lightness of foot.

After a twenty-minute crawl I reach the clearing at the top. Normally I would rejoice in this moment—home, home at last, mind and body reunited on the top of the world—but my hands are raw and red and clublike from the cold, and my pants are soaked from crawling in snow. The sun is dropping fast and with it the temperature. If I don't change clothes and warm up, I'm in trouble.

The cabin is filthy with rat shit and desiccated deer mice stuck to the floor, dead moths by the hundreds beneath the windowsills, but these are problems for later. I start a fire using kindling gathered late last year with precisely this moment in mind. I strip off my pants and hop into dry ones, never straying far from the potbellied stove.

Once I'm warmed through, I tend to the next necessity: water. Just outside the cabin is an underground tank, 500 gallons of rainwater captured by the cabin's roof and funneled through a charcoal filter into a surplus guided-missile container. It's the sweetest water I've ever tasted, despite what holds it, and to keep it that way I lock the ground-level lid for the off-season. This winter, I discover, someone tried to get at it and broke off a key in the lock. Why a visitor thought he could open a U.S. Forest Ser vice padlock—it is stamped USFS, unmistakably—is difficult to fathom, but I've spent enough time here to know that people do strange things alone above 10,000 feet. Maybe it's simple lack of oxygen to the brain.

My water supply shall remain, for now, inaccessible. The snow I so recently cursed is my savior. Melted in a pan on the woodstove, strained of bits of bark and pine needle, it tastes nearly as sweet as I remember the cistern water, with just a tincture of mineral earth. My thirst quenched and my hands warm, I heat some snowmelt and freeze-dried minestrone to head off the roiling in my stomach.

The sun drops over the edge of the world. The wind comes up, gusts to near forty. I jam the stove with wood, unroll my sleeping bag on the mattress in the corner, and free-fall into untroubled sleep.

FIVE HOURS LATER I WAKE to find Alice has joined me in the bed. I can't say I mind the added warmth of her next to me. It is still only 2 a.m., but the stove has burned out. I revive the fire from the ashes of itself, drink some more snow water. Outside the wind screams in the night, gusting now to fifty, buffeting the cabin like some rude beast up from the desert. I pull on an extra pair of wool socks, a down vest, a stocking cap, gloves. Time for a look around.

Some of my fellow lookouts live in their towers, spacious rooms with catwalks around the exterior. My tower is small and spare, seven-by-seven, purely utilitarian—more office than home. It can hold four people standing, assuming they're not claustrophobic. At fifty-five feet tall, it is one of the highest lookouts still staffed in the Gila. It had to be built high to offer sight lines over the trees—my mountaintop being relatively flat—and in my more poetical moods I think of it as my mountain minaret, where I call myself to secular prayer.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Fire Season by Philip Connors Copyright © 2011 by Philip Connors. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful read!

    Fire Season Field Notes From A Wilderness by Philip Connors was a delightful surprise on many levels. I have a longterm history of loving the southwest and a great appreciation for authors such as Edward Abbey. Mr. Connors follows in the fire lookout footsteps of luminaries such as Mr. Abbey, Jack Kerouac, and Normal Maclean. He has served up a a truly wonderful narrative on life and the affect that man and fire have had in the mountains of the southwest.

    Fire Season is basically two narratives in one. Mr. Connors alternates between sharing his own stories and ruminations on life as a fire lookout atop Apache Peak as well as giving the reader an overall history of the mountains of New Mexico and the evolution of forestry response to fire beginning with the creation of the Forest Service in 1905. In many regards it is part memoir and part forestry lesson.

    While I enjoyed this book a great deal, it is not for everyone. For those who turn a blind eye toward history this book will probably miss the mark. For those with an appreciation of nature and how complex dynamics such as livestock grazing, watersheds, fire suppression, and bureaucratic blunder affect our natural world, this book will probably be a wise choice. Having spent many of my formative years hiking the trails and fishing the waters of Oregon, I felt quite at home and really enjoyed myself.

    While I enjoyed both aspects of the book, I found myself pushing through to the parts where Mr. Connors romanticized his personal experiences of life as a lookout. His observations and descriptions of detail were both interesting and educational for me. Not to say that the history lessons were not interesting, because they were, but I preferred to read his words on the experience of living atop a 10,000 foot mountain for 100 plus days a year.

    I would whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone who can appreciate a good nature read, especially those with a bent toward the southwest.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 16, 2014

    A Must Read for solo adventurists

    The author's writing brought me to the described locations as surely as if I were there. Anyone who seeks solitude, loves the mountains, or has contemplated living on a mountaintop should read this story. It's as close to actually doing it as you will find. It reminded me of my 2 summers as a caretaker at the decommissioned Baltic Lookout in El Dorado National Forest during the summers of 2000 and 2001.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    Eleven dollars is not under three

    But i see two more under this and give up

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2014

    Ryan

    Unbottuns my pants*

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    Great read!!

    Interesting perspective about how being alone doesn't have to be lonely.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Sad It's Over

    What a thoroughly peaceful read. I felt as if I was right there with him

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2012

    Paperback version ordered but not here yet.

    Please adjust your automated software asking for a review of
    a book that is not yet shipped. Get a better quality software developer for this automated message asking for a book review.
    I pre-ordered the paperback version of this book.
    And it has yet to arrive.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    A great read!

    For anyone who has fantasized about living the life of a lookout, this is a book about what that life is like. It will occupy a deserved place on my bookshelf next to all my other lookout books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 28, 2011

    great book

    Sensitive portrayal of wilderness from a modern=day fire tower, with a bit of historical reference thrown in. Go there.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Beautifully written!

    This is not my typical read but after hearing Mr. Connors on NPR I had to see what life in a fire lookout tower was like. The descriptions of the environment coupled with his lessons of true environmentalism in the southwest let this book flow effortlessly. Part memoir, part environmental education, part biographical summary of some of the most noted writers and nature lovers out there today! A great read when you're sitting on your porch on a hot summer's day!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)