Tracking People And Making Decisions

Not that long ago I was fascinated with Tom Brown Jr and his books on tracking. His reputation in the wilderness survival community is unparalleled. He’s actually been a consultant for several Hollywood Movies and it’s been said that he can track your footsteps across a bare concrete floor and tell you what kind of mood you was in when you passed through. I was never anywhere near that good but even today I have a tendency to notice footprints and try to figure out what was happening when the tracks were made. People will often say that they talk with their hands meaning that they gesture a lot but believe it or not we also talk with our feet too. It’s a little more subtle but it’s there in one degree or another. For example, a person deep in thought might have a tendency to move his/her feet in semi-circles as if mapping out their options. As a lefthander I normally take longer strides with my left leg than I do my right. There’s a whole discipline of forensics dedicated footprints.

On a more philosophical note, I sometimes wonder what I would learn about myself if I look into the past and read my own tracks at key moments in my life. Especially those moments when I “built experience” ( AKA made the wrong decision). I’m willing to bet that I would see evidence of talking myself out of what I knew was the right choices. Search & Rescue trackers will often comment that they could tell that a person paused for an extended period facing the right path before turning and heading into danger. We can only see so far into the past but we can be active observers in the present. I don’t think it’s essential to base our decisions on our foot placement but if I catch myself hesitating towards a particular choice I know that I should probably investigate that choice a little closer before walking away from it. And of course ask myself if I’m just trying to take the easy way out for the wrong reasons.

The footprints in the feature image are not mine. They belong to a young lady who I stumbled upon just enjoying Cane Branch that feeds Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge. What do I think that her footprints say? They say “This a great place to enjoy life!”

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Child’s Play

Ah, the carefree days of youth. The smell of the grass and the sun’s caress on my face. Most of all, the time to just wonder around and roam the landscape. I would love to have had a camera in those days when the whole world was one big adventure. The very pasture where I took the picture of my uncle’s calf in the feature image was one of the best places to be a kid. I remember gathering up a whole coffee can full of green plastic army men and positioning them in the rocky outcrops just a little beyond this spot. In the days before electronic devices we would go down to the swampy spot in the bottom of the pasture and prospect for fossils of reeds and such by banging the sandstone together until it cracked. Later on after I married I actually found a few while gathering stone to fix potholes in the driveway. There is a spring close by and at times the field was full of little clay chimneys created by crayfish. Also known as the mountains lobsters these crustaceans live on dry land and burrow holes to find underground water. Just over the hill is a field of honor where two knights (my brother and I) would meet to have duals. A dead stick was the weapon of choice and at one point we had a whole arena set up. A fallen tree served as the main contact point. The “knights” would stand on the log and battle for hours. There was really no way to win. Losing however was accomplished by either having your stick broken down until it was useless or losing your balance and falling off of the log. The consequences of losing was the shameful walk to the edge of the woods to find a new stick.

We would swing on grape vines, climb trees and skip stones. There might even be the remnants of a fort deep in forest.

Come to think of it, I’m adult enough to get out and act like a kid again. Who wants to go jump in a mud puddle? I won’t tell your mom. 😉

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