GORDON JOHNSON: Burgers made with kindness and magic
The summer of 1970, I was back from college for vacation. To earn summer money, I signed on with the Pala Fire Crew attached to Cleveland National Forest, spending much of the summer with a Pulaski in hand cutting line at big fires.
On the fire line, I quickly learned about the rigors of physical labor. I remember nights with a government-issue flashlight connected to my helmet, swinging a brush hook at resistant manzanita. There were red and yellow flames licking the sky from a nearby ridge. With sweat rolling from my brow, even though it was night, I was thinking, “College isn’t so bad; it’s a heck of a lot better than busting my hump for the rest of my life on a fire line.”