Fathers and Sons

As I remember my dad today and to honor my oldest son on the occasion of his first Father’s Day, I offer this piece written several years ago.

Words Not On Paper

I mentioned in a previous post that I recently lost a very dear uncle.

The timing of his death closely coincided with the death of my own dad twenty-four years ago. As I watched my cousins grieve their father and my mom attempt to console her sister-in-law, it brought back a flood of memories of my dad’s sudden passing at the age of fifty. I was twenty-five at the time, a grad student at LSU, with a wife and a young son of my own. My brother was in his senior year of high school.

My last memory of my dad was in a hospital parking lot in Birmingham, Alabama. We had come for a weekend visit to see my sick grandmother and he had followed me back to the car to us see us off back to Louisiana. We laughed and talked about the things we were going to…

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Plain Forestry


Most of the folks I know have no idea what a forester actually does.

To those who ask me, I answer “it depends.”

If a person tells you they are a doctor, you have a mental image of what they do.  But I would wager you might be wrong.  After all, there are many different kinds of doctors.  Some work on brains, some on feet, and some on places that most of us would rather not think about.

The same can be said for foresters.  If you visualize the average southern forester as taking leisurely hikes through beautiful woodland scenes (like those you may have visited in a National Park), you aren’t even close to reality.

The photo above (taken at eye-level) was my “office” for roughly twenty hours scattered over four days.

Scattered throughout that 200-acre jungle of brush and vines (most of which had thorns), were some pine trees that were for sale to the highest bidder.  I had to determine how many and what products they were suitable for.

Did I mention this is June in Alabama?  That means temperatures and humidity in the mid-eighties.

How about the ticks, deer flies, and black gnats?  Probably snakes too, but I wear boots for them (haven’t got to test the guarantee on those yet).

It’s a bit of a conundrum, this task.  Should I cover ever possible inch of exposed flesh to keep from being torn to pieces by thorns and briars ( and risk heat stroke) — or should I man-up and bleed to death?  I usually take the middle ground and  bleed some and cramp some.

By the way, I went to school a long time for this privilege. A long, long, time.

Also, I wasn’t even close to being the “high bidder” when it was all said and done.  So it was all just for fun.

I did hear a lot of song birds.  Even flushed a covey or two of bobwhite quail, which is always a thrill to a southern sportsman, with or without the dogs and the shotgun.

Bottom line is that you have to be one tough cookie to do this kind of forester work — or just plain crazy.

I’ll let you decide.