Show Some Remorse

| March 14, 2013

Editor:

I was very interested in Barry Evans' account of his Lost Coast misadventure ("The Fireball," Feb. 21). I spent some wonderful and exciting years in the '70s living fulltime near Honeydew, a parcel or two away from Peter Marshall. I have very fond memories of hiking, hunting and fishing in the King Range and on the beach. In those days you could spend a week or two and never see another person. What a playground for expression of my Neolithic, Neanderthal, Slavic heritage. A childhood dream come true.

Something about the story nagged at me and I could not put my finger on it. Peter Marshall hit it exactly with his letter, "Fire Wasn't Trivial" (March 7). Peter knows what he is talking about. I, too, have had nearly disastrous experiences with fire. If you seek a religious experience, try the feeling you get when the fire that got away from you, and is about to burn out you and your friends and neighbors, is miraculously extinguished. I still cringe to think about it.
None of that from Mr. Evans. The piece has a sackcloth-and-ashes, Joe Btfsplk, can-you-believe-it aspect that is inappropriate.

Mr. Evans is extremely lucky that neither he, his companion, nor other campers, nor the King Range or southern Humboldt County were consumed in a conflagration for which he would be held responsible if he survived. In July??!! He is lucky that his insurance company paid his lucky, low-ball bill.
A teeny, tiny, iota of culpability, remorse and gratitude would have prevented this otherwise great story from being an example of self-absorption and an exaggerated sense of entitlement.

Timothy Crlenjak, Eureka

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Mr. Crlenjak would have liked us to have expressed “culpability, remorse and gratitude." Our way of dealing with these emotions was to try to do something useful with them, rather than just feel bad. Most people who start wilderness fires, we’re told, don’t report them (let alone write about them), preferring to avoid the consequences. So we wrote our story in the spirit of a cautionary tale: this can happen to anyone (not just Joe Btfsplk!).

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Posted by barry on 03/15/2013 at 10:23 AM
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