One Man's Paradise

A Song for the River

Another seasonal post comes to its end. I have enjoyed a mild winter in the nation’s first Wilderness. Just in time I did finish my fourth local reading: “A Song for the River” by Philip Connors, who spent many seasons in the area as a fire lookout. This book is not so much about the solitude and work ethics of a lookout. It is part autobiography, with all the ups and downs of an unusual career path, part homage to dear friends, and part environmental manifest. The author is a master of his craft.

Having exhumed oil and coal from the bowels of the Earth and torched in world-altering quantities, we now inhabit the space between their origin underground and their destination in the atmosphere: the surface of a planet on fire.

Philip Connors

That from the same man who admits that his soul is covered with hoarfrost 🙂

Besides his environmental concerns the authors shares also a few delightful moments, one which made me giggle. In remembrance of a dear friend, he puts on bright red lipstick standing on the catwalk of his lookout, puckers his lips and waits to be kissed – by a hummingbird.

The Gila Wilderness was proposed by Aldo Leopold as one of the last forested areas in the West that were not crossed by roads of any kind. At the heart of the wilderness is the Gila river, the last free-flowing wild (and scenic) river in New Mexico. At some point some scrupulous politicians and businessmen (men indeed) drew up a plan to build on or more diversion dams to put the water to “better” use. The project would cost a billion dollars, paid for by tax dollars. The benefits were dubious. Making the dusty city of Deming an oasis, providing more farm land for alfalfa for export. It was even proposed the dam would create new habitat for birds (that were already living in the area). This cockamamie plan is rightfully exposed by the author:

It was an axiom oft proven in the West that when water law put the fate of a river in the hands of bureaucrats, engineers and investment bankers, they could find a way to make it flow uphill toward money.

Philip Connors

If you like Ed Abbey’s writing, give this contemporary a try.

This post was written the same week ExxonMobil posted a record net profit of $56,000,000,000 and ConocoPhilips, the largest producer of crude oil in Alaska, received a nod from the Bureau of Land Management, to develop Willow, a site on the West side of the North Slope, which has had no industrial development to this date. The oil company expects to produce 180,000 barrels a day…

I have witnessed how federal agencies rule and overrule previous decisions. I can only shake my head.

We are at the cusp. When do we and our leaders act accordingly?

Stay positive (note to self).

One Man's Paradise


Tipping points are so dangerous because if you pass them, the climate is out of humanity's control: if an ice sheet disintegrates and starts to slide into the ocean there's nothing we can do about that.

James Hansen

I am far away from the ocean, but the desert is also a great place to appreciate what difference a few degrees can make. On a clear day the temperature rises to a comfortable level and drops at night well below freezing. During that transition water puddles turn into fantastic ice features, only to melt away a few hours later. I can sit next to those puddles and watch and feel the transition, right in front of my eyes. It is obvious, every degree counts.

What will you do today that makes a difference?

One Man's Paradise

Dawn To Dusk

“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air.

William O. Douglas

In the morning light the tree in front of our house appears bright orange, in the evening it’s the sky.

One Man's Paradise


Had a winter storm blow through the desert today. It kept the visitors away and I had time on my hand. Although I took some pictures I also jumped the AI bandwagon and tries out DiffusionBee, which is an amazing little app that generates images from text or images. Here is my (?) first attempt:

Winter desert landscape with cactus in the foreground and mountains in the distance., Linocut, Wood-Carving, by Frida Kahlo

What do you think?

Too many cacti for my taste in the foreground and a very jagged peak in the background. Let’s see if I can fix that next time around.

Stay warm.

One Man's Paradise


I will be without a vehicle for the next 4 months. This will be a test.

I am also considering living without a computer for a while. All this ever changing technology drives me crazy. For years I had a Web site that received no visitors, except hackers, that brought down the site. For weeks I have exchanged emails with support from overseas to no avail. So I am getting rid of it. This is going to happen sometime soon anyhow. The lights go out, and nobody cares. It makes me sad, but that’s the fate of digital photography.

I’ll be heading South, with a bicycle in tow. Let’s see if that lifestyle is more carefree than van life.

One Man's Paradise

Ramble On

Leaves are falling all around
It’s time I was on my way
Thanks to you I’m much obliged
For such a pleasant stay
But now it’s time for me to go

Jimmy Page / Robert Plant

The dreaded supply chain got me trapped in Alaska. I know, there are worse places to be trapped. My van is in the shop and the parts are just not showing up. In the meantime, I am stuck. No transportation…

Luckily, friends are hosting me in the meantime, otherwise this would be an even more costly and unpleasant experience. Nevertheless, I don’t want to be a burden for much longer, so I am contemplating my options, one of them being a short bicycle trip to a hot spring. I do have a 4-season tent and a good, if heavy, sleeping bag. Last night we got 2 inches of snow and temps are not creeping much above freezing in the coming days.