As a little girl, I was shy. Painfully shy. Eye contact? Out of the question. Talking? No way. Strangers never heard my voice, especially strangers with hair on their face. Beards terrified me.
Now I talk so much I have swollen vocal chords and I hang out in the woods and on the water with beards daily.
Just goes to show you what a determined little girl will do when she knows, without a doubt, she’s going to tell you a story when she grows up.
I didn’t fish with my dad. I didn’t hunt with my dad. I hiked with my dad. Endlessly. My mom says I don’t have a danger gene. Well, my dad doesn’t have an internal compass. He’s always lost so our hikes were endless wanders. I spent a lot of hours staring at the back of his dusty frame and that taught me endurance, patience and persistence.
Endurance for the distance I’m willing to go. Patience for the wild’s waiting game. Persistence to plow passed the naysayers who claim my chosen line of work is no place for a lady.
Lady I may be, but I’m as tough as any broad boldly making her way in this world from way back in the homestead days right on through to modern-day politics.
The old boys tried to lock their clubhouse door, but I kicked it in and what I discovered is an outdoor playground worth reporting on.
I see men cry in the middle of a river, pummel road-closed signs and throw fits when they miss a shot. I join their laughter for no reason and for good reason. And I give them space when gender differences prove too much.
I’m honored when men invite me to sit at their campfires, fish from their boats and ride their horses. Together we marvel at mass migrations, raging rivers and scorching wildfires. We admire rising suns, swirling snowflakes and open country. We also struggle with hikes, hillbillies and being away from home.
Now don’t get me wrong, my shy side is ever present, but as an outdoor journalist, it’s my job, shyness aside, to find the story and tell it. Vividly. Accurately.
Drop me in an unknown land full of unknown faces and I’ll find you a story. My gender is irrelevant when it comes to my skills. All you need to know is I carry my own weight and I do my job well.
The result of my relentless pursuit to work where most women won’t is this: I know more about fishin’ than fashion and I’ll show you my boots, but never my boobs.
Oh, and one more thing, I’m not after a date. I’m after a story.
Now, about those beards...