Flynt Timber — U.S. Forest Ranger
This Week’s Issue: Homer will miss his old friend, Ranger Matthew Tipton. Realizing that change is inevitable, Homer looks forward to a new and budding relationship with Ranger Flynt Timber who has been summoned all the way from Iowa to replace Matthew. What’s in a name? Probably nothing at all; but, with a name like Flynt Timber, this guy might just be someone special!
We all knew it would happen. Even prior to our local airplane tragedy late last winter, Ranger Matt Tipton’s “star” had been rising within the ranks of the U.S. Forestry Service hierarchy. Subsequent to the crash, any petty rivalries were immediately forgotten, flaws in his paperwork submissions were forgiven, and even Matthew’s unfortunate “five deer vs: SUV accident” on Highway 60 from back in 1981 was evidently expunged from his personnel file. Matthew is being promoted to District Supervisor of the Chattahoochie National Wildlife Management Office! Lt. William (Willie) Trainor, Matthew’s former boss, will now be working for Matthew, and I’m sure that Matthew will always remember, and be grateful for, Trainor’s support during the exciting and harrowing plane crash investigation.
We didn’t have to wait long to learn of Matthew’s replacement. Ranger Flynt Timber, (sounds kind of theatrical, doesnt it?) was hand-picked by the USFS and promoted from his post as Assistant Chief Forest Ranger at the Shimek State Forest, in Farmington, IA. Unless you knew the background of the Shimek State Forest, you wouldn’t begin to appreciate the value of his promotion OUT of the Shimek State Forest. Last year, in 1985, because he was a strong wader, Flynt was instrumental in saving the lives of two lost fishermen in the Lick Creek “Equestrian Camping Unit” of the Park. And now, Flynt, like Matthew Tipton, is being moved onward and upward.
In reality, Flynt Timber physically embodies everything I think an USFS Ranger should be. (Louella melted at the first sight of him). With a stature of six-feet-four, an approximate weight of 275 pounds, a thick crop of dark red hair, and orange-colored freckles everywhere, Ranger Timber, at age 36, has the youth, vitality, and eagerness of a recent, untested, forestry school graduate. Sort of like the valedictorian from the “Paul Bunyan School of Manly-Man Forest Rangers.” Don’t get me wrong, Flynt has the makings of an excellent Forest Ranger — according to Matthew Tipton and a host of forestry professionals who are a lot more savvy than I am.
Isabel, Micah, Hank, and Louella were understandably excited over Matthew Tipton’s big promotion, and they were also dreading the loss of his frequent visits to the Inn. Louella took the lead and planned a get-together in the common area at Faded Glory Farm to welcome Ranger Flynt Timber and celebrate Matthew’s pending promotion. Sheriff Kenny Payne, State Trooper Pete Warren and some assorted folks from Georgia DNR were on-hand for the celebration, and Lt. Willie Trainor (Matthew’s old supervisor) was scheduled to “step up and say a few words.” Actually, since his involvemment in the ‘airplane incident,’ Willie has found his “voice” and become an ‘accomplished’ public speaker. Just put a microphone in his hand, and Willie is good to go.
I was most interested in meeting Ranger Timber because I was not only about to lose a good friend, but I was also losing one of the best ‘back scratchers’ to ever walk through the portals of Faded Glory Farm! Ranger Matthew could scratch my back for less than three minutes and never miss a spot. Gotta be the exema!
The celebration was scheduled, and held, on a Saturday evening after Matthew’s last shift as a ranger ended. Paying Inn guests were, of course, invited, and our other ‘guest of honor,’ Flynt Timber, had flown in from Iowa for his formal introduction to Faded Glory Farm and the north Georgia mountains.
Of course, Flynt’s new uniform had been carefully tailored to his large frame, his shoes held the high polish reminiscent of years of loving care, and I noticed for the first time that his huge, dimpled, square jaw resembled that of your famous superhero, Superman. And, did I mention that framed by his thick thatch of red hair, he has large sparkling ice-blue eyes? This guy really fits the ‘role model’ that every adopted dog visualizes in his mind’s eye while waiting for a new owner to walk up and take him home.
The party was excellent. Matthew was patting and scratching me when Flynt walked over and asked for an introduction. How opportune! Flynt was now being trained by the “master!”
Even though, in my own mind, nobody could ever replace Matt Tipton, Flynt’s seemingly boundless energy and somewhat self-effacing, friendly, personality were slowly winning me over. It turns out that Flynt was not only an Eagle Scout as a kid, but he managed to raise a prize-winning hog during his teenage membership in Future Farmers of America. I was also surprised to learn that his prize hog was named “Homer.” I guess that I had better watch what I eat in coming months! I may be a little overweight, but — aren’t we all?
Trooper Pete Warren winced briefly as Flynt’s powerful handshake nearly brought him to his knees, but almost instantly, Pete and Sheriff Kenny Payne became mired in a deep conversation with Flynt about ‘the evils of poaching’ and bringing the perpetrators to justice. Flynt seems to be fitting right in. Animal justice (or injustice) is not all about IF you shoot them, it’s about WHEN you shoot them. Oh, excuse me; the appropriate word is “harvest;” not “shoot!”
I know in my heart that all of us harbor some reluctance to change, but after living on this earth for 11 years (77 dog years), change is inevitable. Just blink your eyes and you’ll scarcely know where you are when they reopen.
Matthew Tipton’s visits to the Inn will certainly be less frequent, but I am now looking forward to another future benefactor, Flynt Timber, driving up in his now-familiar green U.S. Forest Service SUV.
Onward, upward, and beyond!