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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pied Piping through Arcadia Mill, 'A Pleasanter Spot You Never Spied'

Flora and fauna like azaleas and bees easily win favor with me at this time of year in Florida. They both seem to understand their places in a delicate dance of beauty and utility.

Last week, the Secret Aging Man, Daughter, and I took some time out from our busy (or not, as the case may be) schedules to visit a fabulous tribute to Florida's history located quite near our home. The name of the place stops you in your tracks. Arcadia Mill. It evokes images of Pan cavorting about the rivers and forests, having a fine old time chasing nymphs and exploring nature. That is, until he meets up with a woodcutter, intent on having his own way with the trees and rivers.

The University of West Florida, Division of Anthropology and Archaeology, has done a fine job of coordinating the preservation of Florida's first industrial complex. You can tell that a lot of thoughtful interpretation and hard work have gone into building this place, for which "no maps, drawings, or photographs that would provide clues about the site layout or methods of operation are known to exist." The preserved site exists as a bridge--tenuous at best in this land of hurricanes and shrinking budgets--to span that fluid river which connects the past and the present.

Swaying bridges will keep generations of visitors like us intent on maintaining their balance. I can't wait until Micah comes of age to join us on this trail. When he is old enough to be trusted to follow the path without constant redirection, his voice will be heard ringing through the woods, just like ours were last week. Residents of a nearby posh neighborhood might not be too happy about the whole noisy business. The road to the site passes by a whole slew of fancy dwellings.

As for me, I prefer a fancy slough, complete with blooming shrubs like this wild blueberry bush. I hope I can return in mid-May to find a few berries left on it. The ones I planted in our garden a month ago have a few blooms too, but they aren't old enough to provide very many berries yet.

You don't have to worry about getting stuck in the muck at Arcadia Mill. Brand-new boardwalks keep you high and dry, unless you prefer straying from the main path like we do to find blooming bushes.

Timelines like this one fascinate me. I do wish, though, that they would start at the end (present) and work backwards (past). Robert Browning, it seems, favored a similar approach in his poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin." In his travels, he came across the German town of Hameln by the river Weser and found some artifacts around which he constructed his elaborate poem. I suppose that he found something significant in the fact that Germans refer to a town-council chamber as a "Rathaus." The thought of politicians gnawing away at citizens' hard-won earnings (a common scenario in any society) must have inspired lines like these:
They fought the dogs and killed the cats
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cook's own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women's chats,
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats..."

I find beauty even in things that have chewed up our resources in the past. The UWF experts have had to contend with the fact that "very little of the site complex is above ground," precisely because of the chewing and gnawing that has taken place in Arcadia. Termites know their purpose in the scheme of things. Nothing goes to waste where they thrive, and it's a good thing that they do. Otherwise, all of us would be buried under a mountain of carefully constructed and contrived mistakes and regrets.
"...At last the people in a body
To the Town Hall came flocking:
'Tis clear,' cried they, 'our Mayor's a noddy;
And as for our Corporation--shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
For dolts that can't or won't determine
What's best to rid us of our vermin!
You hope, because you're old and obese,
To find in the furry civic robe ease?
Rouse up, Sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we're lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!'
At this the Mayor and Corporation
Quaked with a mighty consternation...."


  1. You and Secret Aging Man look as if you are holding on for dear life! Won't be long and Micah will be running with you. That wild blueberry bush is really pretty. At first I thought maybe a silver bell. I bet you get some good berries this year. Your bushes might surprise you.

    Thanks for you nice comment on the blog. I'll pass it on to Mr. Fix-it and the Jimster, who is going thru a 'terrible teen' stage instead of the 'terrible twos'. Have you ever heard of it? A new term I coined just for him. You know those teens!

    May will be here before you know it, I'll be hoping you find lots of berries at Arcadia. ttyl

  2. Is this actually in the town of Arcadia? We go there all the time to visit the antique stores downtown, but we will check this out next time, for sure...beautiful spot! Thanks for posting!

  3. More than a few of us are quaking "with a mighty consternation" over the AIG mess right now! (And if I hear the words "public outrage" one more time I'm cutting off my ears.) And doesn't it seem that we're still "buried under a mountain of carefully constructed and contrived mistakes and regrets?" Or is this just modernity rearing its Medusa's head once again? Why do you prefer chronological order?

    (I'm not sure what you meant by "braugh underwire.")

  4. I loved it! The poem- the pictures-everything! I left with a smile on my face!

  5. Hi, Tina. The bridge picture was of Daughter and me. I was just minding my own business when she started the bridge a-swaying. You should have heard me whoop! The Jimster terrible? Never! He's a sweetie.

    Julie, this Arcadia is near the town of Milton in NW FL. The only antiques here are the ones buried by time and flooding (unless you count the ones visiting the trails). It is indeed a beautiful spot.

    TC, reverse chronological order is the preferred choice for resume building (what have you done lately?). Wouldn't you love to see what those AIG execs put on their resumes when they're finally sent packing? As for the underwire thing, maybe I'm mispronouncing the Gaelic (bragh/braugh). Please correct me!

  6. An interesting historical area.

    I especially enjoyed the glimpse back to Hamelin;) Thanks for bringing back the memory of that amazing poem.

  7. I pronounce it "bra." But I'm sure Irish folk incorporate the "gh" and/or the "ugh" sound somehow.

  8. Those swing bridges get me a bit startled at times. lol.. Thanks for the stroll through the wilderness today. The Saint and I just returned from a short stroll through such a place. All we spotted in the form of critters were tadpoles in the water below the boardwalk. But was nice to get out and enjoy the stroll as with you today. So if Peter Pan half goat? Tee hee…

  9. What a thought-provoking and clever post, W2W! I, too, prefer a fancy slough:) The lines from Browning are certainly timely--we've had far too many politicians thinking their ermine civic robes would give them "ease." Hmmm, I think I'd add corporate bigwigs to that group, too, especially those whose names have an AIG in them.

    At least in Illinois, we have given one such "noddy" the boot!:) Glad to see you are taking advantage of all the beauty of Florida's flora and fauna.

  10. Dee, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks for following.

    Marnie, I had never read this particular Browning poem before working on the post. The only version of the Pied Piper story I knew was that silly Disney cartoon. Hameln, by the way, is celebrating its 725th anniversary of the rat event this year. Browning's date seems a bit off from the one chosen by the town, but who can be sure when a myth is at stake?

    So I guess you get it now, TC? Erin has had a big burden to carry all of these years. She probably needs the extra support.

    Skeeter, I hope you got some of that wonderful rain we had the past few days. The frogs in the neighbor's pond sound like they're as big as cats! We've been leaving the bedroom window open at night, and I wake up sometimes and think we've been invaded by aliens. Again, I think Peter Pan is a Disney-ized version of the old myth. The "real" Pan is too much of a wild child for family fare.

    Thanks, Rose. That noddy from Chicago who got sent packing is going to be padding his pockets even more with book royalties and who knows what else. I hope he gets some psychological help with all of that money he's going to be making. I guess you are thawing out a bit up there. Let's hope it stays warm until time for summer. No more winter!

  11. Nice trip. I love such bridges! Love the poem.

  12. Thanks, Chandramouli. You just reminded me! I forgot to include bridges as one of the labels. They are fascinating subjects for contemplation.

  13. You always manage to find an interesting place to go, and life lesson to share. I'm not a big fan of the Pied Piper - an exterminator whose vengeance about unpaid bills always makes me hesitate to call the exterminator every few years when termites rediscover the delicious overhanging eaves of our house.
    I love the picture of the wild blueberry! I've got a struggling 'Misty' that isn't convinced by the plant label saying it was bred to survive our mild winter and hot summer. I hope you have better luck with yours.

  14. WS, the exterminator man visited us last week to do the annual inspection for termites, and it seemed like a good time of the year to do this kind of post. He said the critters are swarming right now, and it made me think of the feeding frenzy taking place in that swamp known as D.C. We've had experiences in other houses with those little chompers and don't want to risk the same thing happening here. As for the blueberries, we just planted 30 bushes today ($2 each, you-dig, 4-6feet tall), so maybe next year we'll have our own blueberry festival. Does your Misty have enough acid in the soil?

  15. Those bridges look fun: we have the canopy walk down here in southwest Florida, at Mayakka River State Park. The small local parks are always the best if you ask me.

  16. How clever. An interesting place and a neat remembrance of an allegorical poem.

  17. Mr. S., that canopy walk sounds wonderful, quite Swiss Family Robinson-esque.

    Troutbirder, thanks. Mr. Browning had quite a few poetic tricks up his sleeve but didn't gain much renown for them until late in life. During the "prime" of his life he was better known as Mr. Elizabeth Barrett. I guess he didn't mind her having most of the fame. What a guy!

  18. Looks like a fun place to visit. Am looking forward to azaleas blooming here!!!

  19. What lovely azaleas! Ours are still buried in snow. Thanks for taking us on your spring walk at Arcadia Mill. Swaying bridges are fun . . . for kids!

  20. I heard Judy Bense talk about some of their work in one of her spots on WUWF - she's so great - but haven't been out there for a long time. I see the sign on Hwy 90, I guess I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the reminder.

  21. here I am starting another day with a good read. I think swinging bridges are tolerable as longs as it is not to great of a drop to the ground!

  22. Monica, it won't be long, and those frogs will be singing praises to your azaleas.

    Sarah, if I remember right, about the time your spring has sprung we'll be sweltering in the FL summer heat. Then I'll be enjoying your hiking posts.

    PJ, you really should visit and take a guided tour. We missed out on that because we were there on a Monday--no tours offered that day. But then I would have missed seeing the blueberry bushes.

    Thanks, Mr. Stratz. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. It was fun to work on and write.

  23. To have azaleas blooming like walk on such a trail in a place called Arcadia..ah, joy!!

    Every time I read verse that you include in your posts, it never ceases to amaze me. About how true the words hold in our times too!

    Thanks for bringing back childhood memories. Fascinating poem--some of the lines I still remembered! I used to find the Pied Piper fascinating, so foreign!

    Love your photos! The wild berry bush looks pretty. Looking forward to seeing Micah on your walks too!

  24. Thank you, Kanak. I'm glad to be a facilitator of happy memories. This time of year is the best in Florida with everything greening up and blooming shrubs everywhere, before the heat of summer begins.

  25. That swinging bridge looks like fun. Maybe a little scary but still fun.

  26. Some great images there. Our summer (we're just in early autumn now) was so hot that it fried my azaleas!

  27. MBT, you've got some scary times yourself ahead--Spring Fling! I'm sure you'll handle it all with aplomb.

    Thanks, Mr. McMahon. If your azaleas are anything like the ones around here, they'll come back better than ever next year. A little stress makes them bloom like there's no tomorrow. We also now have a series of them known as Encore which blooms twice a year, spring and fall.

  28. Yep, getting more rain then my yard needs but not enough for the lakes needs... Arg, to garden or to go boating, hum, that is the question.... I am greedy and want both so only rain at the lake for a while okay...

  29. THanks for the picture tour. Given my health I'll never be able to go there so it was going with you.

  30. Skeeter, we'll take all the rain we can get. Still in a deficit here so we're enjoying it lately. It's making everything grow like crazy!

    Dr. John, you're welcome to come along anytime. Thanks for the visit!