My current trade is freelance field botany. Mostly I survey project sites for plants on state or federal lists for protection. As I age I do more plant “treasure hunting” on my own and less for pay. Still I found myself needing a new challenge.
I have been fascinated by the accounts of hiking the Appalachian Trail but doing that is physically beyond me and is kind of a cliché with little chance for new rare plant discoveries. Well, how about the Cumberland Trail then?
I have been doing a botanical survey of the Cumberland Trail with the Tennessee Native Plant Society. We have been making lists of all plants along some stretches of the trail. The Cumberland Trail is projected to be about 300 miles long passing through beautiful wild country. The trail provides access to remote areas where no one has studied the rare plants. Our Cumberland hike will give me a chance to do much of the needed botanical surveying.
I thought we should do a book which uses Ben and my specialties, creative writing and natural history.
I graduated from Warren Wilson College (near Asheville) with a creative writing major. My specialty was creative nonfiction, but I got famous on my small campus drawing cartoons for my college newspaper. I’ve done a few other comics since then. You’ll see some of my comics on this site featuring the BLTs (Ben and Larry Toons).
I spent a semester in Mexico (and blogged about it). My time there lead to an article published in Abroadview magazine. More importantly, it made me want to see the world and write about it. I got as far away as an internship in Columbia (South Carolina, not South America). You can find some of my thoughts on that internship here.
Soon though, I wound up back in Tennessee with my parents, the last place I wanted to be at the time.
Still, I did not have to give up my dreams of traveling and writing. My dad told me about the Cumberland Trail and his plans for a book. I’m excited to explore the new trail and the wild and scenic country through which it passes.