Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Why Footloose Forester Won’t Write A Novel
As snippets of clichés and other prompts for new chronicles popped into his head, the Footloose Forester decided that at least two of them were determining factors in his decision to forever eschew writing a novel. Two thoughts were excised from previous chronicles. Both “you just can’t make this stuff up” and “truth is stranger than fiction” were lifted whole cloth from previous Footloose Forester chronicles written in 2010.
Some things we read are so fantastic that they seem implausible. But it is precisely because some true stories written by foresters are so bizarre that the allure of the lives of tropical foresters ofttimes mark the circumstances as quite remarkable. What would you think if I wrote,
“There I was in a clearing in a sal forest when, raising my eyes I saw a sambhar deer within a few yards, gazing hungrily at me. There being no tree handy to climb, I ceased thinking of the girl I left behind and started concentrating my attention on the sambhar. Every now and then the sambhar hammered the ground with his hoofs and his tail stuck up at right angles… A sambhar is savage at any time, but when he has a perpendicular tail, it is up to any human in the vicinity to prepare for immediate dissolution. ….Through a special intervention of Providence, nothing happened. After looking me over for a little, the sambhar lowered his danger signal and trotted off into the forest…
….then plucking a handful of young sal leaves to wipe the cold sweat from my brow, I turned to leave the clearing. I immediately found myself gazing into the blazing eyes of a man-eating tiger. The position was critical, and again I deeply deplored the absence of a climbable tree. The tiger’s tail, like the sambar’s, was in evidence. It vigorously swished from side to side, and was playing the deuce with the young sals within its reach. I opened my coat to get out pencil and paper wherein to write a few last words, when the tiger, I am of the opinion, misunderstood my action. He thought that I was about to give him a copy of the forest orders dealing with the destruction of man-eaters, for, with a snarl of rage, he bounded off into the forest…”
An Indian Sambhar
That would probably make for spellbinding reading in a novel about the tropics and some of the dangerous encounters that come with the job. But truth is stranger than fiction and the preceding true account was written by a practicing forester and published in The Indian Forester Volume XLV in 1919.
There are true stories enough to justify the telling in personal chronicles. Writing fiction is just not in his blood and not in his plans. Thus, the Footloose Forester will continue with his seemingly aimless, sometimes inane, and often boring accounts of years spent on the road and in the woods. They lend credence to every-day realities that might never have to be written up as fiction.