He looked out the window of his PhD advisors office and sighed.
“It’s autumn, and look at those leaves. Two years ago, I was out there in it. Walking across the North East, following creeks finding my way over the top of the Appalachian divide and into the Ohio watershed. Following the so called forbidden trail across the ancient Seneca lands and then south west to Pittsburgh and down to New Orleans. I slept indoors 20 nights on the whole trip, when I came into the more settled lands where I wasn’t able to just camp besides the river, or when it became too cold, or it was what I received in return for speaking to a Rotary club in Evansville and the University talk in Memphis.”
“You miss it, don’t you? Well I guess that’s to be expected.”
“Of course I do. You do too. Anyone who’s lived outdoors misses it on the cool crisp days when the sun shines and there’s no wind. It’s the people who miss it when it’s 34 and raining that are special.”
“Do you miss that too?”
“When I’m dealing with snide, foolish undergrads I do. When I have to attend committee meetings with people who think they understand fly over country and haven’t been west of the Hudson in twenty years I do. When I’m called for a soundbite on homelessness, or racial strife, or southern cooking or any number of other topics the media thinks I know about. I was never homeless. I had a lease here. I chose to live outdoors. I had sponsors for crying out loud. But I get pain in my legs now when it gets cold. Living indoors is much more my style these days.”
“Southern cooking? I didn’t get the impression you’d done much bbq cooking living down by the river.”
“One of the last blog posts was about cooking okra over a camp fire. You know how it was, the blog was getting 3000 individual hits a day after I left Memphis. By the time I reached Lake Pontchatrain it was 5000 some days. As a joke, I’d included “Southern Cooking” as one of the topics, and it took off from there. Honestly, it wasn’t any good. I mean it wasn’t that slick nasty slimy way okra can get, but it didn’t work over a fire either. Plenty of people can cook okra. I’m not one of them. But because I was a cause celeb for all of three months it still comes up in a basic search for southern cooking. And new media interns being about as lazy as any other intern they fail to read the piece. And they rarely ask what I’m doing now.”
Dr. Dodd looked down at his desk searching for a memo he’d received from the department chair and then looked across at Scott. He knew that Scott was fully funded for another three years, but also knew that Scott had become effectively independently wealthy. Well, if not independently wealthy he could certainly afford to pay for his doctorate. But asking Scott to effectively fund another PhD student was something that would be difficult to do. There was no question that Scotts work deserved to be funded, hell he’d received a “genius grant” before he’d even reached New Orleans, before he’d settled on here as his PhD and that was before he’d gotten famous.
“Come along with me and look in on this masters symposium. It’s in Jones Hall. You don’t have any office hours this afternoon, do you?
“No, let me stop off at the dining hall and I’ll meet you there.”
“Still on the high protein diet I take it”
“I suspect I will be the rest of my life. It’s what keeps me moving after all.”
Look for Part 2 December 5th
check out my last adventure’s photography at