Journalist Patricia Prijatel and her family built a tiny cabin in a remote Colorado mountain valley where they embraced the silent, the wild, and the beautiful—until June 2013 and the East Peak Fire. Their cabin survived, but their woodlands became a burn-scarred landscape of splintered trunks and blackened branches.
After the fire, the ruin of the land and its people grew: flash floods on eroded land, invasive weeds crowding out grass and seedlings, hurricane-level winds breaking healthy trees, dangerous orphaned animals, toxic air, and stress leading to life-threatening diseases. Burn Scars follows Prijatel and her family through six years of living in a changed ecosystem. It’s the story of a love of the land, of hope challenging despair, of climate grief, and the birth of a climate warrior.
With searing honesty, Prijatel chronicles an unprecedented transition for America’s natural forests, the life they nurture, and the people witnessing their tragic loss. Her story serves as a love song, a warning, and a glimpse of the future we’ll all navigate as climate change remakes the places we’ve loved. It’s also a call to fight for a priceless treasure we can still preserve—if we act now.
“An honest and vulnerable meditation on the trauma of life in contemporary Colorado, put to the page with uncommon grace and insight. Prijatel is a compassionate guide in exploring that chaotic time. Most important, she offers hope for recovery and resilience.”Laura Pritchett, Author, Sky Bridge, winner of the WILLA Award
“An elegy and a wake-up call. Prijatel writes a deeply personal and wrenching story of loss that touches us all. Like fire, her memoir is a reckoning that urges us to examine our priorities and recognize our first allegiance is to the earth, our one true home.”Karen Auvinen, Author, Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living
“A moving meditation on our connection to the land, and a potent wake up call to the devastating effects of climate change.”Tanja Pajevic, Author, The Secret Life of Grief, winner of Nautilus Silver Award”
“An important story. Prijatel chronicles her personal journey of loss and climate grief that touches our collective experience. But it is also a story of healing, for as we face this crisis, we are challenged to discover a resilience within ourselves and in the generative power of nature.” Leslie Davenport, Author, Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change
Patricia Prijatel is a journalism educator and writer whose goal is to help people make sense of things with hope and humor. Her last name is the Slovene word for friend. She’s the author of three books: Burn Scars, a Memoir of the Land and Its Loss (Clementine Press),Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (Oxford University Press), and The Magazine from Cover to Cover (Oxford University Press). She has written nearly a thousand articles for publications including Psychology Today, Better Homes and Gardens, Cure, and Diabetic Living.