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September 15, 2003

Blackneck Fantasies

I've lived in the South for about a total of 3 years give or take. That's long enough to understand what it's all about, especially if you have family from there with whom you're more than passively acquainted.

Some days when I get really tired of the runaround and superficiality of modern life, I long for the backwoods. The backwoods represents to me, the impenetrable thicket of nature in which tenderfoot yuppies fear to tread. I get a kick out of the reconstruction of reality the backwoods forces on city slickers. Having been a backpacker and member of the Sierra Club from my pre-teen days, I have a healthy appreciation for the outdoors. After a time, it's almost like good manners. It's a basic skill that changes who you are, and you can spot phonies a mile away. I like having been initiated into that circle.

It's certainly different as a West Coast phenomenon. Out here we don't shoot, dress and eat. We pack in and we pack out. Here it's more about climbing rocks than hiding in blinds, but the respect for the place and the orienteering skills are the same. If you ask me, I'll say the biggest difference is guns.

I don't own, have never owned and have never shot a gun. It's one of those things that I just never got around to. Whenever I had an extra 400 bucks burning a hole in my pocket, it never occured to me to head down to the Big 5, or Western Surplus and pick-up a nice weapon. But when I lived in Atlanta, it was one of the first things on my mind. But I'll get to the gun thing later (I just decided to speak about it at length separately)

My yeoman fantasy has more to do with the need to have a little chunk of the woods to myself. Private, remote, quiet and secure standing over a lake with an obscenely large fireplace. A place to sit out the nuclear holocaust or the economic collapse of society. Someplace for trucks and ducks, where it takes skill to be a neighbor because you just can't take a cab to get here.

I always liked wearing fatigues for their comfort and utility, and I like the opportunity to get grubby and not care. I like the idea of getting up at dawn and hearing the crunch of frosty gravel under my boots. A lot of people think rednecking is a lot of loudmouth inbred idiocy. I don't. I see the intelligence of rednecking. Maybe there's some streak of Virginia in me. I don't know. That's why I coined the term 'blackneck'. Being a blackneck is like a bit of hardscrabble, a lot of outdoors sense, and most importantly, zero tolerance for bullshit. It's the rural edge of the Old School. Imagine Booker T. Washington in Danner boots.

More to come for sure.

Posted by mbowen at September 15, 2003 07:43 PM

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Blackneck - I like it.

I think there are two kinds of hunters. There are people who get almost sexually excited about what, how big, how many, how elusive the game they killed was. That crowd is just too freaking intense about something I think I grew out of. I had enough of wearing camouflage and carrying guns in the woods when I was in the Marines that I don't get all that excited about the macho'ness of it all. I have to agree with Hemingway that after hunting the human animal, all other hunting just doesn't compare.

But you painted a beautiful picture of why I hunt. Why taking my kids hunting is the true reason I do it. It's an escape to the things that too much civilization and suburbanization have taken from us. Being grubby, getting up on a frosty morning and shivering as you stand behind a tree to pee and breathe air that is so crisp and clean that it hurts to take it in at first.

Most of the time we sit in our stand and talk ourselves out of shooting at anything. You see things differently, smell things you never noticed, the weather becomes an important part of the world (not just something you brush into going from door to car and back) and the concept of life takes on a different meaning.

The cell phone doesn't work, no television and nobody dares turn on a radio. Conversations around a fire with a adult beverage and you talk about things that are important. It really is a cure for civilization.

Posted by: Lemonade at September 22, 2003 12:24 AM