Looking Down a Sendero
Blogs come in all varieties. There are blogs about celebrities and blogs about buying things. Product reviews and healthcare advice; there are blogs about love and even about hate. What makes someone want to start a blog is difficult to say but I think those reasons stem from many places. Perhaps most of all it’s about wanting to share things with others.
I believe things like blogs have nudged aside the novel and the non-fiction book. That’s not to suggest those forms of communication are not popular but blogs give readers immediate access to so many things freely and—given our increasingly limited attention spans as well as the demands on our time—blogs provide education or emotional comfort in just a few words. That’s important in this hectic age. A friend told me the other day that Woods Roamer is not your average outdoor, hiking, backpacking, product-reviews blog. He said people come to this blog looking for one of two things. “They want to learn the ways of the woods from someone who’s lived it…and they want to know about the experience of the woods from a man who feels it in his heart.” He told me to keep that in mind and so I will.
Back in the mid-1980s I lived in a 26-foot Avion trailer at the edge of a large lake. In the evenings I’d look out across the water at mountains to the southwest. I’d see storms building with lightning pulsating downward over the distant peaks. Now and then I’d hear thunder bellowing across the flats. From that small trailer I wrote news articles that made national headlines and were discussed on everything from the major television networks to talk radio. When I’d roam the cow trails in the nearby woods I’d often think about the irony of talking to the world from a tiny trailer bordered by water on one side and thick brush on the other. All these years later I guess things haven’t changed much for me. As I write these notes I see several coveys of bobwhite quail pecking and scratching in the dirt out back. Three ghost doves are trying to push each other aside at one of the feeding stations. And pyrrhuloxias and green jays are perched on the branches of a granjeno. Several painted buntings came to visit a while ago. In the night I’ll hear great-horned owls and screech owls in the woods behind the house. I’ll listen to coyotes singing melancholy songs as well as pauraques whistling. I sometimes take long midnight walks down the narrow road leading away from this place just to enjoy the quiet and stillness.
I think about the people who read this blog around the world. Name a country and there is somebody there who has read Woods Roamer. I have readers in the Ukraine and Russia and in Malaysia as well. There are readers in Australia, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Sweden and many other countries. And yet here I am in this little cabin in Deep South Texas where my nearest neighbor is almost four miles away. This region is in the news a lot lately. I’m not sure what to make of what’s going on sixty miles south of us and about thirty-five miles to the west. It all seems a bit odd. All of a sudden people decide to flee en mass to South Texas? It’s not as if there is a sudden revolution or a monumental collapse in those Central American countries. In fact, things were the same five years ago and ten years ago and twenty years ago. So why the influx now unless somebody somewhere is manipulating things. Regardless, I’ve witnessed firsthand what happens along the Rio Grande when people swim to the US side. There are trash heaps like hillocks made of plastic bags and inner tubes and discarded clothes and tossed soda cans and nylon rope and glass bottles and a hundred other items that poison the ground killing the trees and nearly all the wild creatures that live there. I’ve seen the bleached shells of tortoises and the remains of raccoons and bobcats that either choked to death when they were snared by the trash or died of poisoning when they attempted to eat the refuse. That’s a story you won’t hear on the nightly news. No immigration reform advocate wants you to know that truth. Even this far north there are areas where the trash is disgusting. Known smuggling trails are littered with everything from tossed shoes and tin cans to Santa Muerte emblems. We’ve been warned by the US Border Patrol to be on guard for criminals and Central American gang members and even terrorists who might use the current chaos on the Rio Grande as a means to sneak into the country. So we keep an eye out and sometimes at night we hear or see BP helicopters flying along gas pipeline right-of-ways a few miles to the east and west. By the way, those natural gas pipelines have proven to be a significant problem for many people. The corporations that own those pipelines have no qualms about destroying ranchland for their own profit. Politicians have stolen the land via eminent domain so that their contributors in the oil and gas industry can have the land for themselves. If the land means anything to you then you’ll understand how tragic it is when these multi-national conglomerates arrive and rape the earth and pollute the groundwater as well. Some ranchers to the west of us are at their wits end. I wonder how long their patience will last before things start to happen. Those things sometimes make the news but the National Media is a fickle bunch that runs around chasing event after event yet never really comprehending what’s actually going on.
It seems that people who arrive at this blog want to know more about doing things for themselves than about what to buy at the store. A lot of them also share my love of nature and my passion for wanting to save it. Yes, I include politics in my posts and I get mail from both the Right and Left regarding some of my statements. So be it. For me it’s all about the land and by that I mean nature. I advocate for wilderness, plain and simple. If you’ve bothered to read any of my books you know what I’ve seen happen in these parts.
I appreciate the emails I get from those of you who love the backwoods. I thank you for sharing your thoughts about nature and your ideas about preserving it. There are more things to impart to you about living in the brushlands and about making things for yourself. About being self-sufficient; and focusing on the quality of your life and not the quantities in your life. About the importance of family and truth and about protecting what has been given to you for free—that which has no voice of its own unless you speak for it. Whether it is the bobcat or the mesquite tree, the hawk or the tortoise; unless you stand up for them no one else will. One more thing: I’m always eager to hear from you so don’t forget to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org