I’ve spent a great deal of my life living in deepwoods cabins, camping in remote areas and otherwise roaming hidden trails. Who’s to say what turns someone into a woodsman or woman but regardless there’re those who are and those who aren’t. My childhood buddy and I would get off from school and head into the woods nearby and stay till sunset. Our moms eventually learned to put up with our forays and by the time I was eleven I was spending weekends and holidays at either my uncle’s ranch or my dad’s ranch. Summers were spent entirely at the ranch and at about the age of 14 I built my own secret camp in a deeply wooded area where I’d take in the quiet. In all those years neither my uncle nor my grandfather ever discovered my camp. Stealth is something I’ve been practicing for over 60 years. As mentioned, I’ve dwelled in various cabins and now for nearly a decade have done the same. Some people find this isolation hard to accept. Just last night a friend told me that I needed to get into town more. This friend was born and raised near Texas City in the midst of some of the most brightly lit, heavily congested, roaring noises along the Gulf Coast, Houston on one side and Galveston on the other. I guess that’s just normal for him and though he likes the woods I can always sense a feeling of disconnect when he comes out here to visit. I guess woodsmanship is like learning a language. You either pick it up when you’re a child or you never quite get the gist of it.
If you read my latest book, The Sand Sheet you’ll learn about my life today and how I came to settle in this remote spot and about my eternal quest to learn the technologies employed by the pre-historic people who once dwelled in this corner of the globe. As I see it one could spend a lifetime in these woods and never absorb everything that can be learned from my surroundings. From studying the plants and bushcraft and ecology and birds, mammals, herps…Well, the list is as I’ve suggested, endless. But there’s another reason for being out here. I never was one to tolerate noise. The silence of the deep woods is the best remedy for peace in life. In the city I always feel an underlying stress working through me like prickles and pain from a pinched nerve. Constant, unrelenting, day or night; the collective noise can’t be good for people. How anyone can tolerate perpetual noise is something I don’t understand. And yet, I’ve had people come out here to visit who immediately complain that “it’s too quiet.” Not so much associated with noise but yet distantly related are the young people who accompany their parents and who then sit fixated to a hand computer playing video games. That’s sad, folks.
I’ve compiled a list of the obnoxious sounds that so many people these days seem to take for granted. For example, why is it that every time you turn a TV or computer on or off it’s got to go ding di-ding d-ding ding…or some other equally offensive jingle? And how about the beep, beep, beep, beep of anything that’s backing up? Yeah, it was some Washington bureaucrat’s brain storm to keep people safe. But the backing up beeping has become so ubiquitous that no one pays attention to it! Then there’s the ding, ding, ding, ding that’ll drive you nuts if you don’t fasten your safety belt. Now I ask you: If I’m driving my pickup on a two-rut ranch road going ten miles an hour and there’s no traffic for miles then why must I put my safety belt on? So I attach the safety belt behind my back so that damn dinging will shut up. Anyway, it’s just more racket to toss into a mix that apparently most city folks seem to be forced to tolerate. In all cities there’s a constant rumble; the coalescence of every noise being generated from miles around. Sirens, diesel trucks, honking horns, jackhammers, leaf blowers, mowing machines, tractors, people yelling, babies crying, car radios blaring, helicopters flying overhead. Some people I assume seem to love that sort of thing. Well, good for them.
Yes, it’s awfully quiet out here. No shopping malls and movie theaters or Broadway plays; no carnivals or “fun parks.” No hamburger stands and fancy restaurants. All I’ve got is persistent quiet with maybe a bird chirping or an owl hooting or coyotes yodeling nearby. But then listen to those politicians and chambers of commerce types, those “developers” and Capitalists who spout endless growth. There’s a new religion in town and don’t expect the preachers to tell you about it since they’ve all embraced it themselves. So then have you ever noticed when the sun takes on an unnatural color at sunset? Dark clouds are building in the west. Even the air begins to smell strange. You can’t help but start thinking, There’s a storm coming.
THE SAND SHEET at Amazon.Com
THE SAND SHEET at Texas A&M University Press
THE SAND SHEET at Barnes & Nobles