Friday, February 23, 2018


Everyone needs to get away at some point and sort things out, and so I’ve been gone for a while. I don’t know about you but it seems that things have gotten a bit crazy in the US over the last year.  Regardless, life is a series of adjustments and the future has a tendency of just showing up one day.  You either adapt or wallow in a kind of no-mans-land, lost and forlorn.  The one certainty is that nothing ever stays the same.  Change is inevitable.  The problem, however, is that for most of the history of humankind there was always someone or some group that decided they wanted more for themselves and it was usually at the expense of their fellow humans, and always to the detriment of nature and other living things.  Perhaps that’s what we’re seeing now, and why unbridled greed is considered one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
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For a long time the winters in Deep South Texas have been practically nonexistent. This winter, however, has been different.  Temperatures in some places dipped into the 30’s and that something seldom seen any more in these parts.  Too many people these days want to conflate weather and climate but I’ll ignore that for now.  It snowed twice this winter, the first impressive for South Texas, the second a mere dusting.

The last few days, like most of this winter, were overcast interspersed with rain and mist.  I rode around the place with my cousin (her father and my mother were brother and sister) and as usual we talked about our lives close to the woods.  She complains that in our family the boys had more access to the woods than the girls and that’s true.  It was an old fashioned and very conservative family and girls weren’t given the same outdoors opportunities as the boys.  Even so, of all the grandsons I’m the only one who took to the woods.

My cousin loves nature and says she can’t exist in the cities because of the noise and congestion.  Deer season is over now and she was commenting how she can’t stand deer shooters because they’re mostly city slickers and they make too much noise.  There’s truth in that remark.

My life has been spent in and around woodlands because that’s where I need to be.  I’ve got a friend who comes out here now and then.  He’s from the Houston area but he’s lived in the Rio Grande Valley, seventy-miles to the south, for at least a decade, maybe more.  I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley but it has become one more sprawling, congested, noisy place and I don’t enjoy going there.  My friend, no matter how much he tries, will never acclimate to the wilds.  There are others like him around here, weekenders some people call them.  You see, in the city everything is manicured, mowed, geometrically platted and otherwise “managed.”  But in the country it’s the opposite.  Nature plays an intricate and elusive music never heard in cities.  Nature’s harmonies swirl and dance through solitary thickets and the music floats over stilled meadows and into secret places seldom seen by anyone.  So, of course, my friend can’t understand why I don’t manicure the place; keep everything neatly trimmed and symmetrical.  It bothers him no end.  What perplexes me is that people like that are now the majority.  They’ll take a pleasant wooded spot and turn it into a settlement with clipped grass and man-made gopher holes to entrap little white balls.  May the spirits of the wilds keep those types far away.

My hobbies include knife-making and bow-making.  I’ve let the selfbows slide and haven’t made anything in that realm for a while.  Knives, on the other hand, are still something I like to follow.  It does, however, get a bit ridiculous after the knives start spilling out of drawers and the shed is filled with boxes of unused blades.  I think I might want to step back from that obsession for a little bit too.  It’s time to seek the quietest spots and await the spring.

 I’m glad people enjoyed my short story “Broken.”  I’ve got several others in the works as well as another novel that’s almost ready to be turned loose.  I like the idea of combining the woods and bushcraft and adventure into a story.  And maybe a little romance as well.

I’ve often thought that if it weren’t for my Internet connection I wouldn’t know anything about the outside world.  I’d have no idea who is president (Hmm, that might not be a bad idea), and I wouldn’t know about how the mega polluting Corporations have joined hands with a bunch of politicians to continue their ongoing destruction of nature.  More filth will be pumped into the air.  More poisons will make their way into our waterways and groundwater.  We will see more deforestation.  Notice how we’ve seen record forest fires and how parts of the world (including places here in the US) are running out of water.  Corporatists demand more deregulation and then sell their deceptions to an innocent public by telling them there’ll be “more jobs.”  But what they don’t say is that regulations were put in place for a reason.  The Oil Companies, for example, want to be able to pollute with impunity.  They hate regulations.  The Big Banks already screwed the American people a decade ago and almost completely destroyed the economy.  The good Ol’ American taxpayers were forced to bail them out in 2007-2008.

Have you ever made a railroad spike hatchet?  That’s next.


  1. When you have knives spilling out of your drawers, it might be time to rent a table at the local flea market and sell some of them.

    I have a blacksmith friend who has made tomahawks out of railroad spikes. Something else that you might try is a Shepherd's Axe - - basically a very light hatchet head on the end of a walking cane. These have been used for centuries in Eastern Europe, where they are called by various names: fokos (Hungary), Ciupaga (Poland), Valaska (Czech Republic, Slovakia). Bram Stoker mentions them in the beginning of Dracula when Jonathan Harker is travelling to Castle Dracula. The Wikipedia entry has some good information. I have one myself, and the advice I'd offer is this: make the head as light as possible. It's not an axe for felling trees. If the head is too heavy you'll leave it at home. You can use it for trimming small branches for firewood, for banging in tent pegs (if it has a hammer back), for digging up roots (if it has a spike back), and as a self-defense weapon against rabid animals or even men if one doesn't carry a firearm.

    1. An aquiantence has one of the Cold Steel Trail Hawk tomahawk heads fastened on a cut down hoe handle very similar to your description above. Keeps a cut garden hose blade protector on edge, with bungie cord to keep tight. Neat little item - I'm thinking of making one of my own.

    2. There's a YouTube video of a Czech woodsman using one. They look like neat little axes. I'll look for the link.

  2. My new bride has not been able to grasp the concept of having some acres of land and just leaving it alone, only dealing with the area around the house. The idea that nature will take care of itself was just not there.
    She is not a big city girl (small city, suburbs). I was thinking it was some quirk in humans that I had never seen before, the 'need' to use it just because it's there.
    She is from a monetarily successful family.

  3. Much of what you say above is felt by me as well. How much 'sustainable growth' can you get without it becoming too much ? I think a lot of society's problems have a root cause - they don't receive enough quiet. It shouldn't be only for vacations, people need some time to decompress from their daily lives and they just aren't getting enough vitamin 'quiet'.


  4. Anyone who thinks industry doesn't need regulation should read up the history of lead and leaded petrol: they knew it was toxic from the beginning, between the wars, but it was only removed from our fuel in the '80s. They did their damndest to lie and defame to hide the truth in between.

  5. Spot on as always. Haven't had a TV in 12 years and I'm not too interested in what goes on in DC. I spend my time trying to pass on my love for the woods and instill in my children and grandson the value of protecting it and living with it. Trying to point out the intricate patterns and the interconnections. I have a pair of red foxes who have a litter of kits living under one of my outbuildings. They're a pleasure to watch and learn from. Much better than TV! That's what is important to me. Passing on HOW to see nature and why its important. Thanks again for the effort you put into your blog. Helps my soul. Cheers, Jeff

  6. Found an interesting blog that others might enjoy reading. Written by Christopher Nyerges, the blog is named Voice in the Wilderness. Worth checking out if you enjoy our hosts thoughts as well.

  7. Always looking forward to your next article. It has been quite awhile. Hope all is well.

  8. I have enjoyed all of your blogs. I am a 30 year removed Texan living in Seattle WA. I miss your posts. I do hope all is well. Sincerely, Alden

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  10. If your still with us please post if just to say hello. I miss your blog and the thought provoking stories. Miss you! Worried about you! Sincerely... Alden

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  12. Arturo. Just read this post of yours here 3 years after you publishing it. Not long after the ferocious winter Texas had this year. An interesting read after what everyone experienced in your state. Well I hope these words find you in good health