The Cold Canyon Fire Journals
Braiding together illustration, observation, and reportage, artist and naturalist Robin Lee Carlson offers a watershed work that will forever change how we live with wildfire in the West
When the nature reserve at Cold Canyon went up in flames—a casualty of California’s raging fire seasons—Robin Lee Carlson embarked on a five-year journey to learn the legacy of the burn. Spurred by scientific curiosity, Carlson’s deep exploration of this fire-swept ecosystem unearths view-altering revelations about nature’s wild wisdom. Her transformative story of fire as a force for renewal underscores what scientists are urgently working to understand: that wildfire functions as an elemental power that does not destroy the diverse habitats of California but nourishes them. Richly illustrated in pen, ink, and watercolor, this snapshot of wildlife emerging from the ashes revels in the cyclical wonder of our wild places. Carlson’s artistic and scientific journey ultimately leads her (and us) to a new understanding of how we must live in relationship to the land. With fire suppression and climate change undermining the regenerative work of wildfire, Carlson’s story of ecological kinship is an urgent one—one that shows us how cultivating intimacy with our natural world teaches us what we need to do to sustain it.