A Letter from the Editor
Hundreds of years ago people bearing the blood now filling my veins left their misty Scottish Highlands and windy Welsh crags behind. Some stopped in Ireland for a generation, but eventually all of them found their way southeast across the Atlantic. Skirting the dangers of Frying Pan Shoals, they landed in North Carolina’s Cape Fear region before spreading west to Appalachia and south to the red clay of Georgia from whence I spring.
As did my forebears, I had to wander; west to Colorado, then Arizona, then further still to Hawaii at the behest of the United States Marine Corps. A plan for four years in uniform followed by a return to Georgia became twenty-seven years of desert and jungle, mountain and sea, in places far removed from the smell of wisteria in the Spring. Now, I find myself leaving the Corps behind as my wife, daughter, and I retire to Wilmington, North Carolina, in the same Cape Fear region where my people’s American journey commenced.
Over the coming year, with the kind invitation of Tom Beckbe to serve as Editor at Large, I mean to explore, contemplate, and write about the things for which there has been little time in the two decades since an azure Tuesday in September was suddenly choked by smoke and ash. Living in the region which gave life to Robert Ruark, I am suddenly both The Old Man leaving behind, “a whole mess of wars here and yonder” and The Boy learning, “why the quail sleep at night or why the turkeys always fly uphill.”
Over the next year, I will seek experiences afield, learning new ways of doing things long familiar or pursuing old traditions new to me. Lately, I find myself in the midst of riotous azaleas, sitting at the base of a tree scratching slate and glass for Old Mister Tom. Soon the Spanish mackerel and red drum for which young Bobby Ruark and the Old Man cast their lines will run and I will be there. When the smell of woodsmoke and steaming oysters again fills the air, I will walk wiregrass savannas under long leaf pines, ever hopeful I might see a covey rise of The Old Man’s gentlemen. And when ice crystals glitter on fallow fields, I’ll seek the wood ducks dropping through live oaks and Spanish moss to flare over black water.
There is beauty in this world, much of it lost to our attention by the immediacy and impermanence of our culture. But some things are made to last and though they are often more difficult to acquire, they are made all the more dear for the effort. I mean to find those things. Y’all come with me.
It’s good to be home.
Russell Worth Parker
Editor at Large, Tom Beckbe
About Russell Worth Parker
A lifelong outdoorsman, Russell Worth Parker is a retired United States Marine turned writer. He has written for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Garden and Gun, Shooting Sportsman, The Bitter Southerner, Backcountry Journal, and Salt. Worth currently lives in Wilmington, North Carolina with his wife and daughter. For the next year, the Cape Fear region will be Worth’s backdrop while he lends his considerable talents to Tom Beckbe as our first Editor-at-Large. Worth’s mandate is broad for this assignment: explore the world and share what he finds.