1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

From Mistletoe to Spanish Moss--Epiphytic Love

From mistletoe to Spanish moss,
epiphytes, you know, are philagathos--loving that which is good.

They don't take more than they need in the way of basic nourishment to become established on a host tree such as an oak or maple. Providing additional photosynthetically derived energy for their hosts, they make cozy nesting material for birds, appear to assist avian digestive processes, and are collected as elegant decorating supplies by aesthetic-minded members of the animal kingdom.

In the plant kingdom, epiphytes are neither here nor there, living at the mercy of their hosts. I do believe epiphytes, especially the various types of mistletoe, have been much maligned and don't deserve the bad reputation they may have acquired because of hearsay or old-wives' tales. And who wouldn't love the idea of pineapples growing on trees?

My study of literature sometimes ranges from the sublime (Wordsworth's "Resolution and Independence") to the ridiculous (Lewis Carroll's "The White Knight's Song"). But what is ridiculous about the need to survive in difficult economic times? Carroll somehow understood better than Wordsworth the absolute necessity for laughter in times of great distress. Wordsworth was perhaps laboring under the delusion of his time that "moving forward" and being "optimistic" were keywords for success in any endeavor. And anyway, laughter makes more of an impression than wringing of hands or gnashing of teeth in times like this one. Somehow it eventually draws your attention to the dire needs of others who are less fortunate. You know--the ones you see along the various highways and byways these days, toting small bundles, bearing the weight of the world's diminishing dividends ultimately decreed by greedy "expert" financiers.

The White Knight's Song
I'll tell thee everything I can;
There's little to relate.
I saw an aged, aged man,
A-sitting on a gate.
"Who are you, aged man?" I said.
"And how is it you live?"
And his answer trickled through my head
Like water through a sieve.
He said, "I look for butterflies
That sleep among the wheat;
I make them into mutton-pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men," he said,
"Who sail on stormy seas;
And that's the way I get my bread--
A trifle, if you please."

But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one's whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
To what the old man said,
I cried, "Come, tell me how you live!"
And thumped him on the head....


  1. I always had some difficulty at
    laughing unless something original
    was said, as in original jokes.

    I do not tend to laugh when people fall, as many seem so prone to do.

    I decided that some people laugh
    because it is expected.

    But in essence I would prefer to smile/laugh without questioning
    if the matter worthy of hilariousness.

    Final word. I totally disagree with that you are nobody until some loves you. That is an ego
    trip. I believe it is the opposite.

  2. Yes, sometimes we just have to laugh and realize all things are relative. Wringing one's hands and gnashing teeth doesn't usually solve anything. I do hope you are well.

  3. That was wonderful! I loved the poem!
    We have mistletoe that grows in the native trees here- I think it looks very neat, woven bunches of it hanging in their branches.

  4. A.C., you're new here. Welcome! I think that Carroll's parody of Wordsworth holds up a mirror (looking-glass?) to anyone intent on political or social reform/engineering. The ridiculous one in the poem is the first-person narrator--the self-absorbed "I" with a mind like a sieve and a plan to make everything (really nothing) all better, especially if it leads to fame and fortune. If we can't laugh at ourselves, then we are in big trouble indeed. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by the "opposite." Do you mean you are somebody until nobody loves you? I was actually referring to the spider and didn't intend to personify it. My fear of spiders made me do it. I figured if I made the spider famous on the Web, it wouldn't seem so scary anymore. ;)

  5. Tina, we are doing just fine. I'm not weeping or gnashing teeth (yet, anyway). Just trying to keep some balance. Thanks for being concerned.

    Thank you, Dee. I'm glad you liked my choice of verse. I love examining literature's ambiguity and trying to describe what I find to other people.

  6. Hi W2W, brilliant analogy by Carroll and by you of the vagabonds we see along the road and the epiphytes on the trees. We mustn't forget that many orchids are epiphytes too, and their worth is apparent to most. Food for thought here, thanks. Reminds me of Aqualung by Jethro Tull. :-)

  7. I always learn something new when I come here, W2W! An epiphyte is a new word to me, but a good one to know; we already have too many parasites in this world:) And the Lewis Carroll poem is new to me, too--I didn't expect that ending!

    I agree with the old cliche that "laughter is the best medicine." Even medical researchers have found the positive benefits in seriously ill patients. We might as well laugh
    because crying isn't going to change things in the world right now!

  8. Lewis Carroll snuck some interesting social commentary into this nonsense poems. As I recall he also wrote books on mathematics and logic. A very unusual gentleman full of seeming contradictions.

  9. A poem so appropriate about 'the need to survive in these difficult times'. Loved the title of your post and the photos too.

  10. Interesting words today. You do have a way of getting my brain to work with thought. I am one which may laugh at a fall. I dont really know why but my biggest fear is fear itself and the unknown so I may hide my fears under laughter. Does that make sense?

  11. Thanks, Frances. I've never grown any orchids since I thought it would take a greenhouse to accommodate their peculiar habits. I found an interesting JT site:

    I sure hope my flowers don't "bloom like madness in the spring."

    Hi, Rose. I agree with you about the laughter. It makes me feel better, and I certainly don't want to end up looking like a sourpuss.

    Marnie, that info about Carroll is news to me. Thanks. It makes sense, though. His analytical mind served him (and us) well.

    Thank you, Kanak! We'll help each other hang on through the storm.

    Skeeter, I aim to please, even if I don't quite hit the mark. I do understand what you're saying about fear and laughter. It's no surprise to me that Mardi Gras is such a big deal down here along the Gulf Coast. Laughing and living it up this time of year is one way people catch their breath before the next tumultous season (I'm not even going to mention what it is).

  12. Ah yes. Very interesting and clever. I tend to think being able to laugh at ones self helps keep perspective and also the prospect of communicating with others.

  13. Thanks for the lesson in plant ecology, is that the subject area? I enjoyed it! :)

  14. Troutbirder, you're right. If we take ourselves too seriously, we become too introspective, risk self-consumption, and miss the best part of life--sharing what makes each of us unique in an ocean of humanity.

    Mary, how can a dilettante like me be satisfied with just one subject? ;>} I'm glad you enjoyed the "lesson."

  15. One of the things about Florida that has always captured my imagination is the epiphytic plants. A friend said he's go around collecting epiphites after hard storms.

    Must be nice!

  16. I hadn’t realized that mistletoe was part of that family. It grows in large bunches in my in law’s yard in England. They enjoy it. Thanks for the interesting lesson on epiphytes. I agree that laughter is better than fretting.

  17. Sometimes the posts at Walk2Write U send us off in another direction for more information... then we have to walk backwards for awhile 2write a comment.

    I'd read that White Knight poem a dozen times since childhood, but am not sure I ever saw the original Wordsworth poem at which Carroll was poking fun until you made me curious. Good for Lewis Carroll. And good for you who expands our minds.

    Spanish Moss always seemed so Gothic-romantic to me. Our form of Tillandsia, that Ball Moss, is just an excuse for jokes when flyers advertising "We Specialize in Ball Removal" are handed out by local landscaper companies.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  18. MBT, I've been learning a lot lately about epiphytes and finding that they do much more than just "hang around" looking pretty or spooky, as the case may be. Is your friend a model train enthusiast? I've read that collected specimens are often used as props (trees, shrubs) in model scenery.

    Hi, Sarah! I don't suppose your in-laws shoot the mistletoe out of the trees. If the storms don't knock enough of them down, apparently some Southerners find that method useful for increasing the supply for market.

    Annie, I hope I don't cause anyone to trip! Thanks for your vote of confidence. It's interesting that you had studied the Carroll poem first and not the Wordsworth one. I just recently discovered Carroll's parody. Makes me wonder why such valuable tidbits are excluded from formal studies of literature. That ball removal remark you made is hilarious! I wonder if the specialists are licensed to perform the operation. I hope they're at least insured in case the knife slips.

  19. I have mixed feelings about epiphytics: for me spanish moss = red bugs. All others are wonders of nature, as long as they don't harbor red bugs. I am fascinated by mistletoe because it is the larval plant for the Great Purple Hairstreak, a beautiful butterfly. I've never seen one myself but I sometimes raise my binoculars to look for them when I see mistletoe in the oak trees.
    As for the times we live in, I'm learning that how well one fares is determined largely by their spiritual strengths. I working on hope these days, I feel much better for the effort.

  20. PJ, I'm glad you're hopeful about the future. It's a good place to be--hope--where reality and the "nasties" of life don't intrude. Are red bugs the same as chiggers? So far, I have not been bothered by either chiggers or ticks (both of them sworn enemies back in the Midwest) here in FL. Maybe the fire ants are keeping them in check?

  21. "We poets in our youth begin in gladness; But thereof come in the end despondency and madness."
    Here in the northeast, this is partially due to a crucial lack of "photosynthetically derived energy" during the winter season. And laughter really is the best medicine, unless you're thumped on the head one too many times, at which point more "despondency and madness" sets in.

  22. TC, maybe the problem originates in "by our own spirits are we deified." Me, a poet? As Peggy Hill might say: "Good Lord, Cotton(top)!" ;>}

  23. That is great!!!
    I have some tillandsia usnoides in my winter garden. Never before I saw photographs like yours from this plants in nature. Wonderful! Great!
    Thank you for sharing this pictures with us.

    Have a great time!!! Wurzerl

  24. wonderful read to greet my busy day. Thanks. If you live with epiphytes, then why not celebrate with them.

  25. Wurzerl, wie geht's? I am delighted that you enjoyed the pictures. I'm still thinking about your trip to Isola Bella and wondering what Napoleon thought about the place.

    Mr. S, I'm glad to be of service. I probably would have made a good epiphyte. ;>}