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.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Waste (a Crisis) Not, Want Not

In between babysitting Micah a couple of weeks ago and suspending our ADLs this week because of the flu, Secret Aging Man and I kept fairly busy. Early last week we traveled to Lower Alabama to dig up thirty blueberry bush suckers. We (SAM, actually) dug a trench and replanted them along one edge of our property in northwest Florida. I soaked them in a bucket of water overnight before planting to mitigate some of the shock they must have received. The guy who sold them to us said he has managed to make a tidy sum of money in the past month (selling them to suckers?). He estimates he has sold 3200 of them at 2 bucks a pop. If these suckers end up thriving here, that guy may have some future competition in the local blueberry bush market. He called them rabbit-eye bushes. If he's correct, these specimens of Vaccinium virgatum should be quite prolific and productive for us here in the Deep South.

The steady rain we've been experiencing the last couple of days should help these youngsters get established in their new home. Before he planted them, Secret Aging Man checked with our neighbor about planting them quite near the property line. Since they can grow quite large, we didn't want a crisis cropping up in the future over possible encroachment issues. You know what some people say about good fences. On the one hand, they "make good neighbors." On the other hand, though, "something there is that doesn't love a wall." Some people don't like obstacles in their way and find creative ways of overcoming them. Take a "crisis," for example. Now there's a word that keeps cropping up everywhere you look and listen. It's the kind of word that makes you sit up and take notice and maybe even get a little (very?) nervous if you're so inclined. You look for direction, help, comfort, and some kind of solution to this crisis so you can get on with your life. Where have I heard this word before? From the pen of Thomas Paine, I think.

"These are the times that try men's souls. . .'Tis surprising to see how rapidly
a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been
subject to them: Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French
fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [actually, the fifteenth;
jeez, Paine!] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of
France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was
performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc.
Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen,
and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment!" (from Thomas
Paine's pamphlet, "The Crisis," No. 1)
Joan, old girl, where are you when we need you? We could use some spiriting up right about now, from what we hear every day about the current crises (plural!) threatening our very existence as a nation. Don't worry too much. I don't. I'm encouraged to hear that nothing gets wasted in Washington, not even a crisis. After all is said and done, "it's an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before." Attaboy, Rahm! Carpe diem!

The Deep South is not only full of blueberry bushes but also plenty of history. We found one of the meccas for Civil War buffs practically next door to us in Lower Alabama. Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, south of Mobile, can hold your attention for a few hours as you explore what another crisis did to this country. At least in that crisis, people knew exactly who the enemy was and what all the fuss and fighting were about.

Something there is in me that likes a ship's anchor. This particular one belonged to the Hartford, a Union ship commanded by a man who defied the odds against him and tempted fate. "Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!" You can almost hear old man Farragut's voice echoing throughout the place.

A fortification this elaborate and large, built to withstand attacks that might come from enemies domestic and foreign, required the use of many bricks. The bricks were fashioned using slave labor, but the skilled masons who constructed the buildings probably hailed from surrounding communities like Mobile. If conditions on the island were not ideal--and they probably weren't if you consider its primitive state at the time--you can bet those craftsmen did not complain. They built to impress the officials who had hired them. They anticipated more work coming their way from those Confederates and wanted to do a good job. You can tell that they did.

We didn't spend all of our time on the island pondering fortresses and history lessons. Still, we found some relics from the past sprucing up the place. I'm not sure, but it looks like these pieces of wood have been here for a long time. Mobile Bay must have changed over the years to encroach on the habitat of what I believe are the remnants of a bald cypress tree. As you can see in the video below, some things never change, like the tools and tasks of a blacksmith. This guy was busy during our entire visit to the fort. He looked like he was enjoying himself, engaging with the audience even while hard at work. I wanted to know but was too shy to ask in front of all those other people standing around. Does it pay more than minimum wage, and where do we sign up?


  1. I wish you luck with those suckers. Are these berries edible?
    It was interesting reading through your little insight into history. I love that anchor too.
    Crises - I'm tired of hearing that word that everyone uses these days to escape reality. To me, it's not intimidating, a bit scary, yes, but not so intimidating that I forget everything and keep brooding in a corner! I believe in the saying, "This'll come to pass.'

  2. Those blueberries are going to be so good! Great you checked with your neighbors before planting them.

  3. Chandramouli, I hope the berries are edible. Otherwise, I'll really feel like I've been duped (suckered)! I'm glad you're not a fatalistic kind of guy. Gardeners usually aren't.

    Tina, the bushes look healthy, and the seller (farmer?) told us he gets gallons of berries from his mature plants. So with 30 bushes we should be pretty well set for berries in a few years. Pie, anyone?

  4. My husband and I went to watch a former student who makes art using a forge. He took some broken blades from my husband's fencing school and made them into candle holders. It was really interesting....Michelle

  5. Michelle, I think blacksmithing must be one of the most physically demanding but satisfying arts. And like you said, one of the best ways to recycle metals. Too bad we humans aren't more malleable. If we were, job loss at midlife would be no big deal. You might be surprised to know how much age discrimination there is in the job market these days. Why pay someone who has consistently averaged more than 50,000 a year over the last 20years when you can find a recent grad willing to work for 25,000 or less in hopes of working his way up over the next 20 years? Experience in most jobs counts for very little anymore.

    Tina, if you and the family get to visit, pie is on the menu. And I make my pastry and fillings from scratch!

  6. I like the smell of places like that, inside the brick walls with the smell of hot iron (and the clanging). Quite a mission to get that fence line, and yes, fences are metaphorical as much as they are material. Good work to prep the neighbors on it. I remember my father putting one up out of the blue, which shocked the neighbors to an extent they never quite seemed to recover. But that was my father ...

  7. Slices of history, literature and those wonderful photos! W2W, I hope those bushes really take off! Loved the shot of the relics too.
    The pies sound so inviting!

    Have a lovely Sunday.

  8. Blueberry bushes like acidic soil, but I'm sure you already checked that. And how lucky you are to get to babysit your grandson! But I'll be seein my granddaughter soon; Easter weekend! (We're headin to KY then.)

  9. Good luck with all your blueberries--you're going to be very healthy with all that fruit! It's good that you thought ahead to consider their mature size and check with your neighbor before planting. I would think he wouldn't mind this kind of "wall."
    Interesting photos, but I especially like the looks of that inviting beach this morning--it's snowing here today.

    As always, you've managed to give us some food for thought, W2W. I don't remember reading the rest of this famous Paine quote--certainly appropriate for today. The Frost poem, though, is another favorite--a 7th grade teacher read it to us, and made me a Frost fan for life.

  10. Mr. S., it sounds like your father was quite a character. I'm still chuckling about your post regarding the golf ball caper. Watching the blacksmith was a special treat. I could have watched him for hours, but there were people constantly streaming in and out of the place, and I didn't want to be a pig. I was hoping you might have a theory for the change in the bay's boundaries. Is it the result of human interference with the watershed or just a natural phenomenon?

    Kanak, thanks. I guess I haven't given up completely on my dream of completing the M. Ed. in Workforce Ed. Ideas for the thesis keep simmering in my brain and leak out every now and then into posts like this one. Now then, (if you still have an appetite) when you get to visit the States you'll have a place to stay--right here--and sample some homemade pie.

    TC, we probably have the perfect pH already, but we added some pine straw for mulch just in case. I'm going to rake up some live oak leaves and put them on the row too. The babysitting is probably what brought on this week's bout with the flu (Micah was too sick for daycare), but we were glad to help out. A little sickness is a small price to pay for time with him. Enjoy your visit and have a safe journey!

    Rose, I've always enjoyed cooking, so I guess my writing tends to follow a culinary protocol: Start out with fresh ingredients, blend them carefully, and add something to give the dish a little "kick." Like Kanak said somewhere in one of her posts, a bit of bitter herb helps the digestion. Kind of the reverse of Mary Poppins' advice. I thought about adding a link to the Frost poem but figured everyone knew which one I was referring to. It's one of my favorites too. Stay warm! Spring (warmth) is almost there for you.

  11. I love the way you work a good history lesson into you travels!!!

  12. Thank you, Troutbirder. History never really interested me until I got into my early 30s. I was homeschooling our two kids and realized I had a lot of catching up to do. Still do.