Thursday, September 14, 2017

What I'll miss

As I near the end of my career as a wildland firefighter, my thoughts are scattered like smoke drifting through the forest. Sometimes I just want to be done, to put my boots and my constant state of readiness up on a shelf for good.  I want to have summer, and spring and fall, without having to go away or have a bag packed to go away.  I want to see fire for what it is: a force of nature like a hurricane or a flood, not something to be fought or managed.

But this life isn't going to let go of me so easily.  I get out of the helicopter at sunset and think, how can I leave this?

I'll miss seeing fire run across the landscape like it's alive, like it was meant to.
A fire last week in the wilderness
I'll miss seeing wild, lonely places where almost nobody goes.
I'll miss the small fires with one or two people, nothing needed but your pulaski and chainsaw to contain it, and then wrapping up in a sleeping bag under the stars on a high unnamed ridge.
I'll miss my tribe.  I've spent so many days and nights with them, flying in the mountains, hiking over hills, dragging tools through the dirt, chasing fire.  I'll miss them most of all.


  1. That's a lot to miss, for sure. Does your Plan B/Next Life include any of those you mentioned? Places, some of the people, etc??

  2. Ohh...this is so poignant....your writing is so vivid that those of us who will never fly in the helicopter looking for fire, never see those hidden spots from the air and never have a tribe in fire, can almost be there. Whatever is next for you will also be awesome, I am sure.

  3. Lots to miss....lots to be happy to leave behind. But lots of amazing memories and experiences to savor!!!

    1. Sometimes it's hard to believe I've done so much!

  4. Be glad that you were able to have a career with a job you loved. Not all of us are that lucky.


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