Survival Instincts

I am proud of my brother Bruce. He’s had a tough time recently, one of those legendary years of loss when too much falls away, until you wonder what the hell is gonna be left.

Once small choice at a time he rebuilt a life. He loves the country, so he scoured Craigs List until he found an affordable cottage with sheep on the front side and acres of doug fir in the back. He needed companionship and missed Alaska, so he welcomed an Alaskan Malamute into his family. He planted bulbs (the ultimate act of faith and investment in my mind). He wanted to stay in touch with his contacts at the Forest Service, so he took a work detail cleaning a fire lookout at Waldo Mountain. Every time he writes about his days up there, he exudes such good health, it’s a surprise to remember what a dark time he’s come through.

I didn’t grok some of his choices as they came down. I’m all, who plants lilies on a farm where they can be attacked by sheep, dogs, and errant tractors? But then, I just wouldn’t plant lilies. My skepticism crumbles before the charm of his flower-ringed home; it would make Mother Goose proud.

More difficult times will roll past, as they do for all of us. Right now, I’m in awe of his determination. I want to hug his instincts. And I’ve got to follow his path back to the garden.

Here is a slide show he put together of his shots from Waldo Mountain — wilderness, work, and one wild lily.



  1. Beth,

    Is the Waldo Mountain Lookout in Oregon, near Eugene? If so, will Bruce be there next summer at all? I need to take that hike! It looks gorgeous.


    1. Yup, that’s the one. He probably won’t be working there next summer, but would probably give you tips if you’d like. He really loves that spot.

  2. Oh, is he no longer with the Forest Service? Or is he assigned to a new post each summer season?

    Say, it was great to see you on the SPU campus this past week. We should get together for coffee or lunch sometime.


    1. Folks bid on contracts to work on lookouts, so it can shift from year to year. A while ago he was able to move out of contract work into salaried positions with the Forest Service, though they were at desks, which didn’t suit him as well. He’s now putting out bids to work a look out again. Funny how the “professional” choice sometimes simply isn’t the right choice.

  3. Gotcha. Well, I still need to get down to Waldo Mountain and hike up to that lookout if I can. It looks awesome.

    And yes, you’re right. The road less traveled (e.g. less “professional”) is often the right path, but many are too timid to take it. I am glad that Bruce moved back in a more heart-happy direction. I hope he gets a good posting.

    What’s your schedule like this Summer? I’d still love to connect with you for coffee. Do you work over at the Seattle Center?



    1. Oh gosh, yes, we are far over due for coffee! I’m going to American Samoa from July 9-19. I’d have time from 6/13 until I leave, or afterward. Yup, I’m still at Seattle Center half time, then working with Taproot the rest of the time…I have daytime flexibility and early evening is great too. I’d be happy to meet you over at SPU.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: