An Intimate Acquaintance with the Look and Feel

My friend, Leslie Owen, is working as a fire lookout again this year in Arizona. Check out her "Mountaintop Monastery" album on Picasa.

How could I not think of her when reading this interview in today's New York Times with Philip Connors who wrote a book about his experiences as a fire lookout in New Mexico? He says, "There’s a certain amount of freedom and liberation involved in detaching yourself, at least temporarily, from anyone’s expectations of you."

Here's an excerpt from his book, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Fire Lookout:

Rick Scibelli Jr. for The New York Times"Having spent eight summers in my little glass-walled perch, I have an intimate acquaintance with the look and feel of the border highlands each week of each month, from April through August: the brutal winds of spring, when gales off the desert gust above seventy miles an hour and the occasional snow squall turns my peak white; the dawning of summer in late May, when the wind abates and the aphids hatch and lady bugs emerge in great clouds from their hibernation; the fires of June, when dry lightning connects with the hills and mesas, sparking smokes that fill the air with the sweet smell of burning pine; the tremendous storms of July, when the radio antenna sizzles like bacon on a griddle and the lightning makes me flinch as if from the threat of a punch; and the blessed indolence of August, when the meadows bloom with wildflowers and the creeks run again, the rains having turned my world a dozen different shades of green. I've seen lunar eclipses and desert sandstorms and lightning that made my hair stand on end. I've seen fires burn so hot they made their own weather. I've watched deer and elk frolic in the meadow below me and pine trees explode in a blue ball of smoke. If there's a better job anywhere on the planet, I'd like to know what it is."

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