A Southern Trail Rider's Almanac
The following series of essays and short stories are fundamentally about landscapes and their resources and a trail rider’s reactions to them. The purpose of this endeavor is to create and enhance the trail rider’s awareness of the ecological matrix through which he or she rides. My contention is that awareness is followed by sensitivity, which is followed by conservation concerns, which are followed by changes in attitudes and adjustments in riding behaviors. But such changes must be made by each individual for himself/herself. Such a change happens within the individual in a place where only he or she can go. The hoped for product of this evolution is the stimulation among riders concerns for natural resource protection so that as the future changes public values for public lands, there will be places for riders and their horses on those lands.
The landscapes that provide the settings for these writings are located principally in the Carolinas, but also include rides in Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia. Some of the short stories follow actual single ride experiences while others are fabricated from multiple experiences. Most are about my rides alone because that is the situation in which I can be the most appreciative of my surroundings and think most clearly. I have on at least one occasion in these stories confessed that, for the sake of safety and well-being, I never recommend riding alone. Riders ride for different values. As riding group size increases, in my opinion, the social values begin to predominate. And that can be a legitimate value.
Finally, I confess without apology that these writings attempt to mimic in style, language and purpose Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac (1) – considered to be the cornerstone of the environmental movement and bible of conservationists. Those writings of universal appeal invited the reader to the aesthetics of the experience while delivering something deeper to think about. My hope is that, on some scale, I can do the same thing here for trail riders no matter where they ride.
(1) Leopold, A. 1949 (1989). A Sand County Almanac - And Sketches Here and There. Oxford University Press. New York, NY. 228 pages.
January: An Early Winter Ride
January: King Cotton
February: Southern Snow Ride
February: Winter on Life's Trail
March: The Moonlit Trail
April: The Great White Way
May - August: Finally, Rain!