Exterior Decorator- Digital Collage 6" x 4"

When I came out in 1979, my parents weren't particularly surprised. They had a much harder time dealing with my decision to join the National Park Service. I think Mother always envisioned me running a thriving interior design business right in Croton-on-Hudson. She couldn't fathom how a boy with my flair for decorating could spend his days not only far from New York, but living like some modern-day Repunzil up in a fire tower. Apparently, I was the only one in the family who remembered the short shorts worn by rangers back in the 1970s. Not that boys were my sole reason for my career choice. Horticulture had always been a passion, and yes I admit I was probably chafing against Mother's wishes for me.

Alas, we can run from our parents, but never from our true selves. No sooner did I take up residence in Yosemite when I found myself restless and dissatisfied with my surroundings. It is not that Yosemite doesn't a possess a majesty all its own. It is just that with some decorative accents it becomes positively enchanting. I drove hundreds of miles on my days off to attend antique fairs. I picked up pieces here and there and hauled them back to the park in my trailer. Back on the job while doing my rounds I'd note the scenic spots in need of a little sprucing up and return to them later. It is amazing what a single Queen Anne end table can do to break up the tedium of a monochromatic rock formation. From the moment I started decorating I felt a renewed sense of purpose.

Several years into my life's work I crossed paths with an irascible grizzly bear. It had just shredded a perfectly kitsch, but charming chenille barcalounger that I had placed on some rocks jutting out over a stream. Ignoring the brute, I simply draped a rustic red and black checked throw over the chair. It's effect was immediate. The bear not only calmed down, but became positively effusive. Right then and there I knew I had found a kindred spirit. After toiling away together for two years, we decided to go legitimate and opened our own exterior decorating business. As you can imagine, Mother was overjoyed.