The Cold Canyon Fire Journals: Green Shoots and Silver Linings in the Ashes

The Cold Canyon Fire Journals: Green Shoots and Silver Linings in the Ashes
Paperback with Flaps, 7 x 9, over 100 full-color images, 288 pages.
ISBN: 9781597145848.

By Robin Lee Carlson

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.


The Cold Canyon Fire Journals is a celebration of a beauty that is larger than our comprehension. Our beloved world has burned and will burn again, Carlson tells us. But these pages offer a new way to relate to fire, kindling a respect for the natural world on its own terms. This is a book to cherish, to share, and to hold close when the skies once again darken with smoke.” Kendra Atleework, author of Miracle Country
The Cold Canyon Fire Journals is a captivating and matchless invitation to see, through Carlson’s incisive writing and charming artistry, a landscape recovering from fire. The relationship and lessons Carlson derives intertwine with her knowledge of global climate crisis and fire cycles—we are all better for being invited into this journey of recovery and reformation.” Beronda L. Montgomery, author of Lessons from Plants
“That place can be a relationship is well understood; that fire is, less so. Robin Lee Carlson puts Cold Canyon, a place she knows intimately, together with fire, an oft-vexing visitor, and the result is a delightfully illustrated reimagining of the fire-catalyzed changes sweeping over us.” Stephen Pyne, author of The Pyrocene
“As we follow Robin Carlson’s adventures and exploration in a post-fire landscape, we are given the raw footage from her nature journals and the deeper insights they inspire. We see the landscape through her eyes, tuned with the curiosity and insight of a scientist and the aesthetics and delight of an artist. This book is an authentic love song to the wonder, resilience and beauty of nature and the power of observation and inquiry.” John Muir Laws, author of The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling
“Robin Lee Carlson spent years field-sketching wildfire impacts, and in The Cold Canyon Fire Journals, she shows us that fire is not inherently bad but a process of change and renewal. Her detailed observations are important, and we can all learn from them as we seek to learn to live with fire in California.” Laura Cunningham, author of A State of Change
“In a time when those who love the living world must hold together joy and pain, beauty and loss, Robin Lee Carlson allows fire to become a teacher that opens both the physical landscape and her ‘imaginative sympathy.’ As a contemplation on ecological change, Cold Canyon reveals how a landscape forged in fire, over time and with loving attention, can deeply alter and revivify our perceptions.” Gavin Van Horn, author of The Way of Coyote and co-editor of Kinship
+ Show all reviews

About the Author

Robin Lee Carlson

Robin Lee Carlson

Robin Lee Carlson is a natural science writer and illustrator. After studying evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz and the University of Chicago, she spent many years working on stream habitat restoration projects in California. She is most interested in how landscapes and ecological communities change over time, especially ecosystem dynamics after disruption. Her artwork is grounded in observing and documenting the world around her as it unfolds. Visit her website at

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


P.O. Box 9145Berkeley, CA 94709(510) 549-3564

vertical logo for Heyday Books

Newsletter Sign Up




Use code heyday20 at checkout!

click here to copy code

Privacy Preference Center