Friday, September 26, 2014


"I produce nothing but words; I consume nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being virtually useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself."

Philip Connors, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout

I've just started reading this book, which is a meditation on solitude, a history of wildfires and fire control in the American West, and (at least in part) a paean to Aldo Leopold, the great conservationist I discovered a few years ago. It's written by a guy who sits in a tower looking for wildfires in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico.

Talk about dreams of escape — this is certainly one for me. Purposeful, sporadic work, enforced alone time, the splendor of creation. But for now, my secondary landscape will have to be the one I create every time I lace up my running shoes and step out the door.

Walking is for me a way to be "useless in the calculations of the culture" so I can become "useful, at last, to myself." Walking is also low-tech. It produces nothing, consumes little. But it is rich in what matters most: the time and space in which to observe, think, slow the wheels of time.

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