Cerruti, now an engineering and valuation territory manager with the IRS, fervently recalls his days as a U.S. Forest Service worker in this memoir. He generously and fondly reflects on his youth in the prologue, in which he says that vacations in California’s Yosemite National Park and at a family camp in the Plumas National Forest in the Sierra Nevada mountain range “birthed [his] love of the outdoors, country living, and an affinity for a very special area of California.” He recalls talking to trees, gazing up in awe at constellations, marveling at storms and smelling “the scent of forest rain.” After abandoning a law curriculum in college, Cerruti opted instead for a forestry degree, which led to fire-camp drills, placement at nearby ranger stations and a stint on a logging operation. Finally, in 1974, the perfect foresting opportunity emerged at the Greenville Ranger District, an area the author adored. The rest of the memoir is made up of zesty vignettes about Cerruti’s adventuresome time at Greenville—loosely recalled, he notes, as it’s been more than 35 years since he was a ranger there. His anecdotes of the station begin somewhat timidly, with recollections of a trek with a sturdy tree-surveying crew, skirting ticks and rattlesnakes. Although these men take their work seriously, he notes, they’re not above donning Woodsy Owl or Smokey the Bear costumes for children’s events. He shares tales of befriending wild animals, including the approachable “Elmer” the deer and the feisty “Satan” the duck. He also tells of honoring tragically fallen co-workers, attending joyful retirement parties and battling dangerous electrical storms. One constant throughout his four-year tenure at Greenville was the rugged camaraderie between the men and women there, and the author’s memories keep that spirit alive. Enhanced with personal photographs, line drawings and a passionate love for the outdoors, Cerruti delivers a stimulating, rewarding memoir.
Nature lovers will get a vicarious thrill from these engrossing tales of outdoor escapades.