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 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 →

Bridging life….

It beaded, coalesced, then gravity took its toll and the sweat slipped from my brow. It swept down through a syrup of time; through time it fell and faded into the distance. It fell to its fate; miles and ages away it splashed on his chest, even as another slipped away to course through that... Continue Reading →


Crucifix. Crucifixion. We contemplate the former to understand the latter. And for me there is always a crucifix; the vision of a limp silver chain slack across a dying man's chest; sweat sticking that crucifix to that dying man’s body. Back in the day, I kept a "catharsis journal;" a smattering of notes-to-self I secreted away, hoping... Continue Reading →

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