4 July 1945: Neukirchen

As the Depression waned and the winds of war stirred in Europe, dad joined the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1937--and was promptly trained in mounted combat--mounted, as in "horse," not "tank." Yet change was also in the wind, and by 1941, their steeds had been joined with steel and for a brief season the cavalry... Continue Reading →

Dawn’s dull ochre orb….

Only in Idaho, in the times of fire, are such colors seen.  Dawning sun, dull ochre orb filtering through the smoke-bound inversion; faint red light illuminates the granite boulders painted with lurid pink slurry from a day ago.  Vertigo seizes me as we trudge through the blackened trees thrusting up among the tinted granite; only... Continue Reading →

Rescue at Navajo Lake

Tuesday, July 14, 2020 I was ambling down toward Navajo Lake at the back of my small family pack—two daughters and two grandsons, on our third annual hike in the Lizard Head Wilderness on the San Juan National Forest. We'd just entered the edge of a large scree field--grand slopes of granite boulders, great and... Continue Reading →

Hell on Not-so-Bland Mountain, 1987

Hell? I’m tempted to say “I’ve been there.” Memories of the not-so-Bland Mountain Fire bring to mind what hell might be—to be so immersed in fatigue; wallowing wholly in sleep deprived saturation; eyes gritty with ash; fire shirt and pants grey with ash; snot-clogged nostrils packed with ash, and that’s just on the walk to... Continue Reading →

The Gold and Molten Cross

If Christians have learned anything about living in a heathen culture, it is the ancient lesson that Christian victory is grounded in sacrifice, not coercive might. That lesson was refreshed a few days ago when we watched A Hidden Life which recounts the life and death of Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter, executed in 1943 after... Continue Reading →

Cross, ascending….

We Anglicans are creatures of habit; a point brought home to me a few days ago when Canon Dart mentioned a particular parishioner to me, identifying him as “sitting on the Gospel side.” I suspect that had I asked, he could have told me which row and what side of the pew that gentleman occupied... Continue Reading →

The skeptic and the shrink

Yachats, Oregon: a few dozen of a rare breed: Human "mules" sat in class; I among them. USFS, BLM; a smattering of state agencies. For us, "mule" meant Medical Unit Leader; the job was to deliver emergency medical services wherever wildfire took thousands of firefighters every season. Its been a good session, but next up--boo!--some... Continue Reading →

Hot time on a dead end road….

After a while you just get to know: the tones come, the pager cries, the dispatcher speaks; controlled monotone, but somehow you know what the dispatcher can only guess. So it is at zit-two hundred: that always is the time for the hard ones, it seems. Structure fire, house on fire, you levitate and dress... Continue Reading →

Good run….

It only happens now and then; harsh honesty forces me to enumerate the times upon painfully few fingers. You walk away, away from the scene, away from the ER; you gather up your gear and climb in your rig--and you know! There's a crazy euphoria, a soaring ecstasy pummeling your heart with the knowledge that... Continue Reading →

Vigor mortis

Friends over; a soft, balmy day and all seemed well until the pager beat out its staccato summons. Run to the door, into my jumpsuit as my blood iced at the dispatcher’s report: car versus bicycle, 3372 Reston Road--it would be a bad one, I knew, I knew, I knew. Out and off, 2002 responding to... Continue Reading →

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