Although I originally focused my outdoor writing on fishing, I soon got the urge to expand and tackle a handful of other outdoor pursuits. Family camping trips and tagging along on the trapline for the better part of thirty odd years have also provided ample tales to relive. In addition, I try to make at least a couple visits to the wilderness each year in search of the elusive (for me at least) morel mushroom.
What is even better in recent years is being able to pass on such traditions to the next generation. It’s a whole new type of adventure with my kids (Helena, Carly and Jayce), my niece (Natalee) and my nephews (Bryar and Brady). I’m also looking forward to a couple other wild animals joining the fray as my brother, Brent and wife, Kim, are expecting next month and we are in July.
Such outings are about more than simply what we catch. No, instead we learn about important things like driving the truck, ordering fast food breakfasts, keeping your boots from eating your socks, steering clear of cowpies, equipping a five gallon bucket with a potty seat and working through all of the verses to that “people on the bus” song (making up a few along the way too). And that’s the sort of stuff that I like as much as the big fish story, the 25 pound coon or the bulging bag (mesh of course) of fungi. I’ve grown to appreciate the mundane, for if you really think about it, that’s what the majority of fishing (unless you witnessed Emiquon 2009), hunting or trapping trips are about.
I like to relate such activities to another of my passions, baseball. To the untrained eye, it seems as if a whole lot of nothing is going on in between the occasional few seconds punctuated by excitement. However, there’s truly plenty going on beyond what is eventually conveyed through a boxscore or a fishing log. There is unlimited potential with every pitch, cast, trap or dying elm tree. Many times the result is a routine grounder to short, a wet lure, an opossum or a puzzling absence of fungus. However, the prospect of a three run double in the gap, a four pound bass, coons in five consecutive sets or the morel mother lode keeps you coming back time and again. Regardless of the outcome, there’s always a story.
In addition to the stories, I find that there are always ample photo opportunities. But just like the tales, it’s not always the trophy catch that makes for the most memorable photograph. While a tailgate loaded with fur or an accidental muskie makes for a nice picture, the shot of a little trapper snoozing in a car seat unable to last for the ride home courtesy of a healthy dose of fresh air is also a keeper.
So, a lot of what I write about extends beyond the numbers, although I do have an affliction for record keeping as you will later see which brings up the concept of “that’s another story.” I am prone to using this phrase and while I have the best intentions, I sometimes fail to get around to “another story.” This used to bother me, but I’ve begun to take it in stride figuring that it’s sort of an insurance policy should I ever encounter the dreaded malady known as “writer’s block.”
More often than not, however, I don’t know when to stop so I’ll conclude this post with a warning, a confession and a disclaimer. The warning involves my fondness for nostalgia, so don’t be surprised to find that I may wander off on occasion into some sort of commentary about classic rock or 70’s sports heroes that is only tangentially related to the story at hand.
My confession is that my written vocabulary likely surpasses my spoken vocabulary. Take for instance, that “malady” word a couple paragraphs ago. I doubt that I’ve ever used that in a conversation and realistically don’t ever foresee doing so in the future. However, I’m pretty sure what it means and I’d like to think that a fair percentage of the time I actually use such words properly. For me, that’s the advantage of writing over speaking. It allows me plenty of time to wade through the clutter in my brain, put together somewhat coherent thoughts and then have the opportunity to go back later and edit them upon finding out that they really didn’t make sense in the first place (by the way, I also like run-on sentences and sometimes disregard grammar when it interferes with what I have to say).
Finally, my disclaimer states; “What you will read is an accurate retelling of my version of the truth and any account that pokes fun at others is purely intentional. Those who take part in any outdoor adventures with myself are fully aware of such risks and likely would return the favor. If anyone wants my companions’ versions of the truth, feel free to contact them or perhaps encourage them to write their own blog.” Talk to you later. Troy
Well, basically, I’m a guy who grew up running around outdoors and now likes to tell frequent and occasionally somewhat long-winded stories about these adventures. Starting in April of 2002 I began e-mailing these tales to a group of family and friends. A number of years later, in June of 2008, I began passing my work on to Jeff in case there was anything he might find of interest for his website. That same year I also entered the Galesburg Public Library’s creative writing contest, “The Big Write”, and accidentally won the Adult Short Story category. In 2009 I tried it again and managed to finish as runner-up. I sat it out in 2010 and missed the deadline this year as I’m having too much fun telling “fish stories.” During the spring of 2009 I also had a tribute to a former coach (sadly upon his passing) published in a local news weekly.
Thus I was honored and admittedly a little scared when Jeff turned me and my meager resume loose on the internet back in April of 2010. After all, offering up your thoughts and opinions on a regular basis for wider public consumption is a whole different animal. Particularly when you consider that I’m far from an expert on any of the outdoor pursuits about which I write. For while my nearly forty four years have given me enough insight to pose a fair threat to fish, fur and fungus, there’s always more to learn with each new adventure. Somehow or another these adventures have now given rise to nearly 400 articles and over 800 pages of stuff since taking up writing as a hobby.
I’ve had the good fortune of creating many of these memories with excellent mentors and partners, some of whom you will meet along the way. My most frequent companions in the stockpile of outdoor tales are my dad (Terry Jackson), my uncle (Richard Jackson- actually my given name as well) and my younger brother (Brent Jackson). Each of these guys have played a prominent role in my outdoor education while helping to instill a healthy respect for all things wild during our years of exploring the woods and waters of West Central Illinois. We’ll likely encounter a few other family members and friends along the way who have also shared and shaped my love for the outdoors. Being first and foremost a husband and father, however, we’ll certainly cross paths with my wife, Julie, and our children, Helena, Carly, Jayce and a new one in July whom we’ve taken to calling “Bob” even though we’re once again going with the surprise upon arrival (the only way to go). I’ve definitely been blessed with such a collection of good people. While I suppose I can take some credit for selecting the friends, in regards to the family I guess I just got lucky. Talk to you later. Troy
When I was approached about taking a shot at blogging back in the fall of 2009 I spent the winter trying to put together some ideas. One of my ideas was a series of postings to serve as an introduction. However, by April of 2010 I’d changed my mind and went with something considerably shorter, starting with the following explanation for my blog title:
“In fact, my selection of a name for this blog, ‘Meandering’, is partially meant to poke fun at my customary writing style since I sometimes find myself ‘wandering aimlessly or casually without destination.’ In addition, a ‘meander’ can be defined as ‘a winding path or course” as well as “a turn or winding of a stream;’ been there and done that too. My wife actually went as far as suggesting the name, ‘To Make a Short Story Long’ (she thinks she’s funny like that).”
I followed this up with the abridged version of the six original postings as follows:
Who? Generally me, my family, my friends, some fish, some fur, some fungus
What? Fishing, trapping, camping, mushrooming and occasional strange inspiration
When? Somewhere between frequently and sparsely as time allows
Where? Mostly our neck of the woods
How? Rather cheap, often behind the times and not too seriously
Why? Good question, stay tuned
Finally, I warned that those original postings would likely surface sometime in the future. The time has arrived as I look to fill some space since I don’t anticipate getting on the water for a while. Before checking these entries out a couple weeks ago they had resided untouched on the hard drive since March 27, 2010. As a result, they needed some minor adjustments and I actually pared them down a bit as well.
They are now headed your way for a couple other reasons besides not being able to go fishing. First, I hate to waste things that I write as they are typically the result of a substantial investment of time, effort, thought and revision (even so I’m often left feeling that I still haven’t gotten it just right). Second, I found that revisiting the articles a year later served as an evaluation of whether or not my words stayed true to my word during the 172 postings that were “Meandering” part one. Here goes nothing as I tackle over 40 years of outdoor education and appreciation. Talk to you later. Troy