Friendship Fires


Sam Cook
Illustrations by Terry Maciej

Stories of the challenges and thrills of life in the North Woods

In these fascinating tales, Sam Cook captures the remote and beautiful North Woods, examining how this dramatic and forbidding landscape shapes his life and the lives of other people who reside there. Like a skilled storyteller sitting near a campfire, he leaves his audience spellbound with tales of adventure.

Sam’s stories strike a responsive chord in anyone who has dipped a paddle into a Northern Minnesota lake. One’s own memories and dreams of the wilderness will be rekindled.

Craig and Nadine Blacklock, outdoor photographers

Sam Cook’s writing has brought readers home to the north country for almost two decades. Gather around Friendship Fires and cover new ground with visits to the region’s vast prairies, towering forests and shimmering water retreats.

Friendship Fires lives up to its name by sparking the memories shared by anyone who’s dusted off a canoe at the first break of ice in spring or savored autumn’s fading sun in late November.

Sam’s stories, both touching and hilarious, offer a new perspective on how the outdoors rekindles the wilderness spirit when we build our own Friendship Fires.

Discover the magic of crustwalking on a frozen morning. Hear the secrets that lie beneath black ice. Sit ringside as Sam attempts ski-joring—a Northland tradition involving dogs, harnesses, and skis, but not necessarily in that order.

Sam Cook, award-winning author and columnist, has gained renown for his witty and heartfelt descriptions of life in the north country. Born and raised in Kansas, Sam moved to Minnesota in 1976 and soon thereafter became the outdoor writer for the Duluth News-Tribune. Since then, Sam’s readers have savored his poignant observations of life throughout the seasons. When not hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, or hiking, he pursues an arduous life of research around a campfire. Sam lives in Duluth with his wife and two children. Other Sam Cook titles include Up North, Quiet Magic, CampSights, and If This is Mid-Life, Where’s the Crisis?

In 1976 Sam Cook trekked north from his native Kansas to work for an outfitter in the Superior-Quetico canoe country. Now, as the Duluth News-Tribune’s award-winning outdoors writer, he uses Duluth, Minnesota, as “base camp” for creating his humorous, powerful, and compassionate columns.

Terry Maciej, a Minnesota native and retired art teacher, has been illustrating his love of the outdoors through scratchboard for 15 years. He and his wife, Carol, own and operate an art and frame shop in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Cook knows that there is more to the outdoors than just hiking, paddling, hunting and fishing—the outdoors often serves as a backdrop for our human relationships here in northern Minnesota, and they also offer the setting in which we define ourselves, challenge ourselves and find ourselves. All in all, Friendship Fires shows one of the area’s elite outdoor writers at the top of his game, and lovers of the outdoors throughout the Northland will enjoy the many fine moments it provides.

Kyle E. Eller, Budgeteer News

Cook writes so well that his text reads effortlessly. His descriptions are striking without being self-conscious or showy. In his writing, Cook passionately evokes the feelings that come from contact with wild places and wild creatures. He creates in us a longing for the seasons—all the seasons, not just summer, but all the seasons of the north.

Gail Nord Paulson, Duluth News-Tribune

Sam’s stories strike a responsive chord in anyone who has dipped a paddle into a Northern Minnesota lake. One’s own memories and dreams of the wilderness will be rekindled.

Craig and Nadine Blacklock, outdoor photographers

Hauntingly evocative, Friendship Fires vibrates with color, light and shade, hues of grey, and a blackness darker than night. It is a minor classic.

Evening News (Worcester, U.K.)


Rhythm* (rfthc Land
Return to the Brule
Going Solo
The Sound of Rain
The Dawning of Autumn
Being in the Woods
Mysteries on the Wing
Superior Storm
Cutting Fat
Black Ice
Slim Chance
Coming and Going
After the Storm
Passing It On
Snowhouse Snooze
Plucking a Duck
Pheasant Camp
Behind the Harvest
By the Book
Close Call
Suburban Lust
Sunrise Grouse
Full Circle
Deer Camp Characters
The Hidden Hunt
Dofj Tnlv
Puppy Love
First Retrieve
HMOs and Lab Riders
Just for Fun
Yellow-Dog Years
Vofco jrom fhe Ltwd
Without Jim
Margaret's River
The Frugal Fly Fisher
Shared Passions
Travels with Charlie
The Umqcrf Sewn
Winter and Water
The Old Boys on the Bay
Deep Trouble
Webbed Feet
Friendship Fires