For nearly a decade, Philip Connors has spent half of each year in a 7' × 7' fire lookout tower, 10,000-feet above sea level in one of the remotest territories of New Mexico. One of the least developed parts of the country, the first region designated as an official wilderness area in the world, the section he tends is also one of the most fire-prone, suffering more than 30,000 lightning strikes each year.
Written with gusto, charm, and sense of history, Fire Season captures the wonder and grandeur of this most unusual job and place: the eerie pleasure of solitude; the strange dance of communion and mistrust with its animal inhabitants; and the majesty, might, and beauty of untamed fire at its wildest. Connors' time up on the peak is filled with drama-there are fires large and small; spectacular midnight lightning storms and silent mornings awakening above the clouds; surprise encounters with long-distance hikers, smokejumpers, bobcats, black bears, and an abandoned, dying fawn.
Filled with Connors' heartfelt reflections on our place in the wild, on other writers who have worked as lookouts-Jack Kerouac, Edward Abbey, Norman Maclean, Gary Snyder-and on the ongoing debate over whether fires should be supressed or left to burn, Fire Season is a remarkable homage to the beauty of nature, the blessings of solitude, and the freedom of the independent spirit.
Philip Connors has worked as a baker, a bartender, a house painter, a delivery man, and an editor at the Wall Street Journal. His writing has appeared in Harper's, The Paris Review, n+1, Salon, The Nation, the Chicago Tribune, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the London Review of Books, the Dublin Review, Dave Eggers' Best Nonrequired Reading anthology and the bestselling State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America. He is the editor of The New West Reader: Essays on an Ever-Evolving Frontier. Originally from Minnesota, he lives in New Mexico with his wife and their dog.
"[R]eading this book is like taking a vacation in beautiful scenery with an observant and clever guide. So relax and enjoy."
– Associated Press