Biographical Info



This is the required historical document which is linked, oddly enough, from the spider page. This could mean something, though somehow I doubt it. Glad you could stop by though.



Basically, I am a doctor who likes to be outside. Above is the Red Dog, who would rather have been inside. He is years gone now. In the seventies, I attended a small college in western Arkansas where I was, well, mostly outside. Frogs and birds, streams and Ozark valleys, I still remember the smell of the Showy Orchis. I have not seen one since. I remember being shown the codebook keys and structures of the flowers, the details of their sexuality, the places to find their names. I pondered being a wildlife chaser by profession and then somehow twisted off into other pursuits by some strange click of fate. I would have missed out on knowing my wife if I had chosen some other road. Hard thing to consider. I thank her for her patience. I am not a normal guy to live with on most days.



Medical school and residency a fog of complex memories all under various tiled roofs and hallways and rooms. Four years of intense school allowing only two books of pleasure to sneak in --"Catcher in the Rye" twice. People in white coats coming and going, the Challenger Space Shuttle exploding in room after room on different television screens. Fireworks from the 8th floor window over the city sparking and flashing over a singular dying man. Needles and spilled blood, so many other men and women trying to talk through fever and bad sleep. No birds; no insects.



Military duties carried me to Montana which is perhaps the military's great gift to me. Mule deer stomping through lichen, wild swans coming down from white sky, elk suddenly appearing from the brush like the spirit Gods of deer. Snowscapes and snowscapes to last for a bit, grouse plucking the buds from barren trees. A man with a painful kidney stone who brings his falcon with him to the Emergency Room.




And I spent some time in south Texas where I will always return periodically. Caracaras and I discover each other. A day in an open field with no wind and an entire flight of Swainson's Hawks coming down around me to feed and rest, a singular tree full of Black-shouldered Kites in my head.

Then back to Arkansas where I became a civilian again. Had a daughter (or well, my wife had the daughter. Oh hell, you know what I mean). Then a bigger and bigger daughter. Collected some dogs and cats. One of whom liked to perch on my monitor to watch me work. He is in the past now too.



Birds came at about age 11. (See Snowmelt Timberdoodle's essay "Confessions of a Former Killer.") They will never go away. They are now the sonic backdrop, the living aural foundation to the outside world. Butterflies blended in from their prior fluttered anonymity after my daughter received a gift from a friend of several preserved butterflies mounted in glass (see Snowmelt Essay "How Things Get Started.") Now they are the colored glints that won't let me be. Dragonflies came after Dunkle's Dragonflies Through Binoculars book came into my hands. He should be thanked again. Along with Dennis Paulson. And Rob Cannings for the robber fly wonders.


The camera with macro capabilities appeared in the last few years and then photos collected. More dogs kept showing up at various places in my life.  Red Slough, Oklahoma appeared in there somewhere.



The essays began several years ago after some short pieces were distributed to butterfly and bird audiences. I enjoyed writing them; someone enjoyed reading them. Then the Gozarks site kindly asked for longer essays at intervals and they surprised me with their persistence and the essays piled up until there were enough for hundreds of pages. And then there was Snowmelt. And now there are more still.


More strange insects coming into focus as I stared at the butterflies and flowers: beetles, wasps and the unnamable. And then, to complicate things even more, several months ago I discovered the wonders and frustrations of MS Frontpage. A little stitching together and quilting of photos and writings, some occasional cursing and slapping of monitors (much to the consternation of the blue cat) and here we are. Here we were. Now the site has been up for over eight years. A friend's wife gone. The child is grown. The Red Dog is lost and a black wild puppy has come and grown instead. Followed by a soft eyed Boxer mix. The Big Dog rages on for now, burning down after 15 years. The beautiful gray blue cat no longer sits atop the monitor. A siamese prowls and occasionally jumps unexpectedly into my lap.

Essays still come less often. Photos pile up and one grows forgetful of some of their origins.

You know what I mean.

And then the Big Dog is gone.

Darcy remains. Lillie remains.

Oliver, the siamese, is the most interesting animal I have ever owned. The book is still out there. But it is little known except among friends. Even though this site was created for that book and for the record of the travels with my daughter.

Soon the doctor life will stop I hope. It is not the same. One wants to play outside more. One always wants to play outside with the camera.


Thanks for coming.


Herschel Raney