As you may have noticed, there’s been a lag between postings in my latest story. While this has been a more involved project than most, I have to admit that I have been very distracted lately.
One is my wife throwing out her back with repetition. It first happened three weeks ago, and then every time she thought it was getting better, she’d over do it again. And then again. Finally she’s gotten the message and is taking it easier. (Notice I said “Easier” and not “Easy”. She still has to do something.)
I’ve been doing more around the house which has been a double edged sword. On one hand, she appreciates all the work I’ve been doing. On the other, she’s been feeling guilty about not doing anything and wants to do more. (I’ve found duct tape to be very useful in these situations.)
The plus side is that she is getting better, moving around more, and will not need any major medical procedures. We might even try a movie next weekend.
But that’s the only real excuse I can quantitatively use. The others are me letting my distractions get the better of me.
First is a book that came in the mail. “The Way of the Scout” by Tom Brown Jr.
I bought it used off Amazon. Tom Brown Jr. was raised in Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Somewhere along the way, he stumbled into an elderly man who was Apache. Tom learned primitive survival skills from the man as well as the spiritual point of view of nature. To clarify it, think of Cody Lundin but with moccasins. You might also know of Tom Brown Jr. from the movie, “The Hunted”. He was the technical advisor for it and the script was loosely based on one of his real life events.
I first heard of Tom Brown Jr. from a customer I met at my old job one day. I don’t recall her name, but she did leave an impression. With short cropped black hair, glasses, blue jeans and an athletic build; she reminded me of Janine Turner from Northern Exposure.
Wanting to talk to her, I saw this book she was carrying and asked her about it. She told me that the guy had many books of stories as well as woods crafts. Loving to hike, I thought it was worth checking out. Nothing ever happened personally but I did find a new author out of the deal.
I read his “Woods Craft” skills books and bought three of them (In fact, they helped influence me towards landscaping) but I never read any of his actual stories. In a way, I’m glad I didn’t.
Tom Brown JR. may have mad skills when it comes to living with nature, but there is a certain amount of arrogance in his words and a definite disconnect with society. Psychologically, I can understand the disconnect. Spending most of his formative years in the woods learning native skills instead of hanging out at the burger shop (trying to get the time-line right) will definitely create a gap between his viewpoint and the average suburbanite. His arrogance seems, to me, to be a defensive measure. He seems to look down on city people and how they live their lives not paying attention to their surroundings and filling their lives with what he felt was unnecessary pressures. What he seems to forget is that if society had chosen to live like he chose, the woods would be overrun with people and not be the place of serenity he finds it to be. I wonder if he’s realized this fact since he wrote this book.
To be fair, the stories he tells is the book are entertaining. I’m still flipping through the book and reading the stuff I haven’t read yet. It’s just not what I was expecting. “The Way of the Scout” talks of tracking and stealth raiding to scare away vandals or capture criminals hiding out in the wilderness with one story of exploring New York City thrown in for good measure. I guess I was hoping for something more in line with Richard “Dick” Proennecke’s “Alone in the Wilderness”. Maybe I’ll buy his book next.
This is also where I need to give you a strong piece of advice: Never, never, never read a book that is totally different from what you are currently working on. Not only will it distract you; it will inexorably change your mood and make getting back into the right mind set for continuing that much harder.
Finally came the last distraction and it was a legitimate one: It was spring this weekend.
Ok, I know that sounds weird coming from Florida, but unless you’ve actually experienced late April and May weather here, it’s needs explaining. April and May are completely different in Southwest Florida than most of the United States. Instead of nice, cool mornings full of crisp, dry air and deliciously pleasant afternoon temperatures, we wake up to fog, high humidity, mid seventy mornings that quickly climb to high eighties or low nineties for the afternoon. The rains have also come early this year and you can see steam issuing off the roads the moment the rain stops. As the saying goes, Spring – “It’s like a sauna in here.” That is, except for this weekend.
We were so lucky this weekend. It was northern spring weather. Dry air, moderate temps, and good wind gusts. I did a batch of serious yards work yesterday and was rewarded with even better weather today. With light winds and temps only reaching the upper seventies, there was no way I was going to stay inside and write. I had a major woods land hiking itch and I was going to indulge it.
There’s a park in the ranchette area of town north of me. I hadn’t been there in years. In fact I went online to make sure I knew what road it was on. It’s a nice park with multiple trails for hiking, biking, or horseback riding. There’s a “No dogs” sign posted on the placard along with other rules, but it seems to be happily ignored. I ran into two friendly Border Collies and a West Highland Terrier during my hike.
A quick running, rambling stream is one of the highlights of the park, Having kids crash can lids together as their mother yells at them is one of the downsides of it. (Hey, it’s a park. Different people are going to do different things to entertain themselves. You just have to accept it and move on.) I moved rapidly to create some distance between me and the mother with the children. Once I did that, the hike was nice.
I spent my time looking at the different tracks trying to see if I could figure out what animals might have crossed. I found horse shoe prints and a mountain bike track, that’s it. I listened to the buzz of the horsefly, the chirp of the cicada, e crash of a squirrel, and some singing of a mocking bird.
I smelled the air, felt the different densities of the ground beneath my sneakers, and picked out various possible sites for camping if it was allowed. I made as little noise as possible, took pictures and, most of all, enjoyed myself.
I’ll be able to write again no problem.
How was your weekend?