Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The State of The Bushman

Greetings and salutations. At long last, a quiet moment in which I have no pressing commitments and an urge to write.

Just one year ago, I started blogging; partly at the urging of friends from whom I'd recently been displaced, partly to pass the excruciating hours of seemingly endless unemployment (15 months worth, thank you very much), and partly to write down my stories and ideas to keep my skills sharp. I have been a writer by trade you see - 10 years in the newspaper business, along with a flirtation with freelance environmental and outdoors articles. My first newspaper editor once advised me, "Writers write." It was good advice.

I won't lie to you. As The Bumbling Bushman found its footing in the blogosphere and a semi-regular crowd seemed to like what I was doing, my ambitions and expectations started to rise. Maybe I could turn this thing into something more than an online journal. Maybe I could make money at it.

Ah money. The root of all evil. I started blogging when I should have been job searching. I started telling myself that if I could just raise my profile amid the sea of online outdoors writers, someone would take notice and give me money. Every new "follower" was a victory. Every endorsement from another blogger was cause for celebration. I wasn't exactly sure how that was going to happen, but I knew that it did for some of the talented folks I admire and try to emulate.

The trouble was, the emergency fund Sue and I had dutifully built up during 10 years of marriage was dwindling with every trip to the grocery store and the big Cabelas sponsorship wasn't coming. I didn't have any book agents or publishers knocking on my door either.

And then, serendipity.

There was a job interview, followed by an offer. There were hoops to jump through; background checks, psych tests, a state budget crisis and waiting - lots of waiting. Finally, towards the end of May, they gave me a badge and a uniform and I started my duties as a North Carolina State Park Ranger at Lake James State Park. My indoctrination is not over yet, not by a long shot. I still have Basic Law Enforcement training to go through starting in January and all sorts of requirements to fulfill before that. But, I have a job and I love it. I get to share the responsibility of stewardship over 3,600 acres of beautiful North Carolina foothill habitat. I get to teach thousands of visitors about the wildlife and natural history of the area. Eventually, I will be honored to help keep them safe and sound as well.

What does this mean for the blog? Obviously, the frequency of my posts has dropped. When I have time off, I've rarely felt the pull of the computer screen. It would be easy to thank you all for reading, say goodbye and sign off, but I don't think so - not yet anyway.

I'm not ready to give up on The Bumbling Bushman. I've made too many friends here and had too much fun. On the cusp of my fourth decade, I mark my life with the adventures I've had and the anticipation of many more to come. Somebody is going to have to write them down.

To all of you who have visited and commented here, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It's an incredible feeling to know people are interested in you and your life's pursuits. You helped me through the most difficult year-and-a-half of my life just by logging on.

I finally know what I want from this blog. It isn't money. It isn't fame. It isn't free stuff. It's companionship and participation in that grand old tradition of storytelling. Henceforth, I will not post for the sake of "fresh content," and increasing readership. I don't need anymore readers than what I have right now (though everyone is always welcome at this camp fire). I'm going back to the beginning - when this blog was about staying connected to friends, no more, no less. When I have something to share, you'll see it here.

Your friend,


  1. Congrats on the new gig, and glad to see you back.

    Also glad to hear you've discovered the real value of blogging... the conversations and community, the acquaintances and (in some cases) real friendships.

    The blogosphere isn't much of a moneymaking proposition, unless you're interested in selling yourself off to advertisers... or, as in any other walk of life, you just happen to fall into the right place at the right time and are willing and able to take advantage of that opportunity.

    Anyway, welcome back!

  2. Congrats on finding a job. I would love to be a park ranger... at least I think so. It seems like a rewarding career. I've applied before in TN, but it seems you have to know somebody who knows somebody who is the Governor... or something like that. Anyway, I made a near perfect score on the state test for that position, have the appropriate degree, and never even got an interview. I'm still trying to find appropriate employment, and have been sort of unemployed for about the same period as you. I'm doing home improvement work currently, but I've had a couple positive interviews recently- still waiting to hear back.
    Don't let the Bumbling Bushman fad away. I'm sure your new experiences as a ranger will provide you with all sorts of great stories that we would love to hear.
    Enjoy your new career!

  3. Phillip - when I write about bloggers I admire and the online connections I've made, I'm thinking of The Hog Blog among others. I think you "got it" a long time ago. Thanks for the welcome back. I'll be here all week.
    Jay - Man, it was a looooong time coming. I applied twice. Finished in the top 2 the first time and finally landed this one, five months after my interview. I'm not sure about the state of things in TN. Here in NC, state parks and rec jobs are hard to come by and getting harder. Remind me to tell you a story some time... I DO know this; take first aid, emergency responder, CPR and anything else you can find in that vein. Also, if the state has any kind of environmental education certification program, hit that too. Volunteering didn't hurt either. Most state parks would love to have a herps and odes man come and tell them what they've got.
    Good luck buddy. It's always darkest before the dawn.

  4. Tommy appraised me of your job situation and the crap you had to scrape off of your boots along the way. Good show. Amazing how the "it builds character" BS follows you till the day you die. It doesn't build character. (You can only develop so much grace and dignity.) And it isn't a divine test.

    As Chech immigrant Joe Horak told me on his 90th birthday, when I asked him to describe his life; "Toil, toil, toil!"

    I asked him what he did when he wasn't toiling. "Sleeping."

    By the way, they are probably going to teach you how to beat the snot out of people. Check out some old Stan Jonathan fight clips on YouTube to fill in the gaps. And have you seen Evander Kane's one-punch KO? He would make a wonderful warden. "Now hold this sleeping bag over your nose to stop the bleeding and put that Brookie back in the stream, sir"

    It sounds like the kind of job we use to dream about. I'm sure that you will rip it up real good.

    Give Sue and the dogs our best.

  5. Thanks Bob, you've always had a bizarre inspirational knack. Will do. A hug to Joanie.

  6. BB
    Good to hear you have a gig, and what a gig, I used to work with a guy who'd been a ranger (cant remember which state) he described it as the best job he ever had.
    I really liked your description of blogging:
    "It's companionship and participation in that grand old tradition of storytelling"

    I do hope we'll be hearing all about your learning curve with the new job and of course your run-ins with both the wildlife and that most perplexing of species, the general public.

    Keep 'em coming

  7. SB-Dub - You have my word on it.

  8. So glad to see you post again, Lone very happy for your enthusiasm for the new job.

    Your gift of prose is truly that, and magnificently coupled with rapier wit. I can still hear you reading your version of "Cocks & Balls" in the blind, and have had in my top desk drawer your account of Israel written on yellow legal paper, "F*** that nuthatch!!" :)

    Bushman's Blog, like all living things, will change and adapt. So glad you won't let it just fade away.

    Still yer boy...

    Kid Gos