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.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nature Notes--To Ogle or Not--The Nature (or Nurture) of Weeds and Aquifers in Florida (Michelle) has invited us to find something interesting in nature and post about our impressions. Please visit her site by clicking on the link above or to the side of this post and find links to other bloggers who have joined her Nature Notes meme this week.

We (SAM and I) kept Micah overnight for the first time a couple of weeks ago. His parents spent the night in the cuddy cabin of their boat so they could watch the Blue Angels air show the next day at Pensacola Beach. They figured that watching the show from the water has got to be more comfortable than mingling with thousands of other sweaty bodies on the beach in mid July, and it was. Micah's visit included a trip to a local park situated on a feeder creek for the Blackwater River, and we discovered this unusual looking (ugly?) duck. According to this site, it's a Muscovy duck, and its coloring suggests that it has been domesticated. Its willingness to come so close looking for a handout gave us another clue that it's not wild.

Micah just loves to fish--no hooks allowed just yet--especially with Jap-pah around to lend a hand. Jam-ah did not get a chance to take many pictures. She had one hand on the camera and one hand ready to keep Micah from falling in the water. A passion for fishing runs deep in this family's gene pool. I'm hoping that a passion for gardening does too.

On a recent morning, while listening to the local high school marching band practice nearby, I worked in the vegetable garden and mused about some things. In mid-July, the weeds grow bigger and stronger than just about anything else in the garden. Temps and humidity levels have been slightly more comfortable this past week, making the task of weeding much more bearable. I guess the latest heat wave got the best of me, and I let the hoe sit idle for too long. The weeds have gotten out of hand and run amok among the veggies. Of course, instead of the weather convincing me to take a break, it could have been the spirit of a former neighbor egging me on....


I spent my last two years of primary and first two years of secondary (high) school in a small town in Illinois some 30 miles east of St. Louis. Dad was getting close to retirement from the Air Force and was on his last tour of duty after we had spent four years living in Germany. He wanted a real home--not on base--and a piece of land to call his own and plant with fruit trees, flowers, and vegetables. We settled, for a while, in a fixer-upper with an acre on the edge of town. It was close enough to school so that on nice days I could ride my bike or walk to class. Our closest neighbors, the Ogles, lived directly behind us on the original homestead, which included a several-acre pond surrounded by woods. It was accessed by a dirt road that ran right next to the Ogles' garden spot and close to their house, nearly hidden from view by brambles and untrimmed shrubbery. Mr. Ogle's brother had sold my parents their fixer-upper, and we learned that certain traits ran deep in and throughout that particular gene pool.

Most of the time I enjoyed helping my dad in our garden, except when hay-fever season arrived or when weed-pulling time came around, which was too often for me! The weather always seemed to be hot and sticky when the weeds threatened to take over the garden. Once in a while, Dad would feel sorry for himself and me, and we would grab our fishing rods, not poles--they were equipped with line guides and well-oiled, spin-casting reels--and head to the Ogles' pond, walking by their house to let them know where we were headed and why.

Dad had bought a small row boat so we could fish in style, and I felt honored when he finally let me take the oars and steer a course while he looked for signs of bass activity in the water. There were some whoppers in there, and we usually had success at bringing home some supper after a few hours on the water. Dad even taught me how to filet the fish we caught, telling me it was an important survival skill for a modern girl--a geeky one at that--to learn. Boy was I ever gullible!

On the way home after catching our limit, dictated by Mr. Ogle's scrutiny,--since he had stocked the pond he often referred to the bass as his babies--we would pass by his garden enclosed by a rusty wire fence. Dad would usually shake his head, sigh, and mutter a few choice words under his breath about the property's lack of obvious care. Though Mr. Ogle plowed up the garden each spring and it looked great then when newly planted, by the middle of summer the weeds had taken over, and some of them grew taller than the adolescent me! Apparently, the justification for this return to nature had something to do with the weeds protecting the tender vegetable plants from the scorching summer sun and keeping the soil intact during heavy downpours. Dad did not buy this explanation at all, but I thought it was a brilliant idea at the time. What could be better than not having to weed the garden in the heat of summer? I'm wondering even now if benign neglect isn't such a bad idea, especially since there are so many water management issues facing Floridians, and overpopulation in some areas is stretching the limits of the freshwater resource. After all, the Ogles seemed to harvest just as much or more produce from their overgrown garden spot as we did from our zealously tended one.

There was perhaps one major drawback to the wilderness garden concept--snakes. I did see a few of them occasionally slipping through the Ogles' fence onto my parents' property. From a distance, I don't consider them a nuisance at all. They take care of any animal pests that might chomp on the veggies and don't expect anything in return other than a little respect and a wide berth. These days, though, when I venture into the garden to pick what's left of the vegetables after the bugs and heat have taken their toll, I do take a sharp hoe with me, just in case I meet up with a snake that stands its ground. Saturday afternoon I witnessed one at least five feet long (not a fish tale, this one!) slithering as fast as I can run, across the back yard and into the brush line beyond our property. It was being chased and pecked at by a pair of mockingbirds which have a nest somewhere in one of my shrubs. I was amused and shocked at the same time. How could a five-foot snake in the garden escape my notice? It hid among the weeds and neglect.

"Consider the intimate and curious acquaintance one makes with various kinds of weeds,--it will bear some iteration in the account, for there was no little iteration in the labor,--disturbing their delicate organizations so ruthlessly, and making such invidious distinction with his hoe, levelling whole ranks of one species, and sedulously cultivating another. That's Roman wormwood,--that's pigweed,--that's sorrel,--that's piper-grass,--have at him, chop him up, turn his roots upward to the sun, don't let him have a fibre in the shade; if you do he'll turn himself t'other side up and be as green as a leek in two days. A long war, not with cranes, but with weeds, those Trojans who had sun and rain and dews on their side. Daily the beans saw me come to their rescue armed with a hoe and thin the ranks of their enemies, filling up the trenches with weedy dead. Many a lusty crest-waving Hector, that towered a whole foot above his crowding comrades, fell before my weapon and rolled in the dust...."--from Henry David Thoreau's Walden, Chapter 7, "The Bean-Field"


  1. Ah yes, the weeds of summer. You are like so many gardeners and I totally understand how overwhelming it can get in the heat. I think you should just go like Mr. Ogle and give the story the weeds are protected the veggies and ground and roll with it. I enjoyed your reminiscing very much. Can you still clean a fish? And how was the air show from a boat? What a way to view it!

  2. My Grandmother, who fed 9 children out of her garden, always let the weeds grow up around the tomatoes for the same reason that Mr. Ogle did. And she never staked them, letting them run across the ground and root along their stems. The rest of the garden was maintained in the same manner that she raised her children. The rows were straight, rigidly maintained, and very little nonsense was tolerated. The plants and the kids both seemed to thrive.

  3. At first, I would say that I had to wait to tell the difference between the veggies and the weeds. :-) After reading this, though, I think I'm going to have to get out there and clear it out. I've seen snakes around here, too, although I know they're harmless to me and are more scared of me than I am of them... Still...

  4. Cute shot of Micah!
    I loved your post except for maybe the snake part. :)
    I take care of what Hubs brings in from the garden. Thank goodness I don't do the weeding - you've reminded me why. :)

  5. Enjoyed your stories. We used to weed our neighbors veggie bed and rake leaves in the fall in return for his allowing us to ride our horses in his pond. Those were fun times, not the weeding but swimming the horses on a hot summer afternoon.

  6. Tina, I tend to straddle the fence on the weed issue but lean more toward letting them go most of the time. Long live the weeds and save the back! Isn't cleaning fish like riding a bike? I guess I probably could if we ever caught any. Son and DIL said the air show was spectacular viewed from the water. And about five thousand other boat owners in a flotilla around them probably would agree.

    Claude, I think that next year I need to adopt your grandmother's plan for tomatoes. Mine were tied up like prisoners, and they rebelled against the treatment. And I probably tortured them even more by showering them with that stuff the city provides that poses as water but reeks of chlorine. Not much rain for us this summer so far.

    RJF, I've thought about using that excuse, but it probably wouldn't fly with my neighbors. After all, I've told them that I write about gardening. Stay safe and watch your step around the snakes!

    Thanks, Carletta. Micah kept taking off his hat until Grandpa put on a similar one. He just loves to imitate his Daddy and granddad. I guess if I want his help in the garden, I'll have to recruit Grandpa to help with the weeding duties when Micah visits.

    Marnie, thanks. I've never been much for horse riding but would probably enjoy it in the water. At least I wouldn't have to worry about falling too far or the horse galloping away with me! I hope your neighbor shared some veggies with you too.

  7. Tomatoes are best, I think, when allowed to flop over and run. At least the four I got planted this year are covered with ripe red tomatoes.

    Pick a Peck of Pixels

  8. Great post! I know all about the gardening-fishing gene. The "fight the weeds" gene weakened this summer though and I tried "Roundup" for the first time. Mmmm maybe I should blog about that disaster.

  9. Weeds are very much in my thoughts too! In summer they threaten to take over---everything! I just got back from my parents' and while I was there I carried a stout staff as I crisscrossed their garden overgrown with weeds! Luckily I didn't see any snakes.

    Enjoyed reading about the Ogles and all your reminiscences. Love the Micah shot too. The duck is beautiful!!

  10. Beautiful shots !! Thanks for sharing..Lovely..Unseen Rajasthan

  11. I love the way you write W2W. Your childhood reminiscences fit perfectly with the photo of SAM and Micah carrying on the tradition. The way you weave weeding into a fishing tale so seamlessly makes me almost want to learn to fish. But then again, no. I can't get past the yuck factor involved in cleaning the catch. I'd almost rather weed my garden.
    I too have to consider snakes. For the most part, they're harmless garden snakes. Rattle snakes at least are one of the few threats anybody can recognize. Strangely, thanks to a childhood experience with a neighbor who had snakes, they don't incite the same yuck factor with me.

  12. Thanks for visiting me today. I came over to see your post on Naked Ladies.

    We live on Bull Shoals Lake on the AR/MO line. I bet you know approximately where it is. We live in a small town of the same name right by the DAM.

    Your gardening is beautiful as is the pictures. Loved the fishing, too.

    We moved here to fish but as we have aged, our trips seem further apart.

  13. I have to remember that line. I am sort of the benign neglect person mostly due to my heat intolerance and my husband not responding well to things get done, but not quickly and not perfectly. I enjoyed the fishing photo and story and it reminded me that this pond is stocked with bass also but nobody ever fishes. I am going to find out what other kind of fish are here... Thank you for posting to Nature Notes and usually I am more timely... Michelle

  14. Abe, I was trying to do the responsible thing and keep the tomatoes neat and orderly, but they didn't take kindly to the discipline. And tying them must have been like waving a flag or ringing a dinner bell to the flying insects: time to dine!

    Thanks, Troutbirder. I think you should post about the weed killer. I'm sure just about every gardener has included it in the arsenal now and then. I know I have. You won't lose any credibility in my opinion, for what it's worth.

    Kanak, I hope you had a good visit. The weeds do tend to get away from even the most meticulous of gardeners when the summer heat is on!

    Thanks for stopping by, UR. I need to see what you've been up to lately....

    WS, thank you. If you don't like to clean the catch, there's always catch-and-release fishing. It satisfies the urge but doesn't require any further commitment. Hmmm. I think most people who are afraid of snakes have never taken the trouble to get close enough to learn about them. It's good that you were able to clear that hurdle when you were young.

    NW1, I enjoyed my visit to your site, and I'll be back again. We visited Bull Shoals Lake in the summer of 1982 when I was pregnant with my daughter. We were "fortunate" enough to visit when the lake had been drawn down for some reason. I think there were some repairs being done to the dam. The lake was not very clear, and the fish were not biting. We had a good time anyway and enjoyed a few days of rest in a beautiful area. I remember going to eat at some restaurant famous for its trout dinners. It was alongside a river, and there were dozens of hummingbird feeders just outside the windows. I wish I could remember the name of the place and wonder if it's still there.

    Michelle, I know what you mean about the heat intolerance. It's becoming more noticeable the older I get. I'm afraid we're not very conservative with the AC this time of year, but at least we won't need much heat during the winter. It would be interesting to know what kinds of fish you have living in the pond. The ones we have around here are certainly different from what we caught in Illinois. The first time I saw "mullet" on the menu of a restaurant here, I thought it was a joke.

  15. I love the photo of Micah with his Jap-pa--that's one you'll treasure for years! You would think my garden would be pristine, if the gene pool theory held up--nary a Trojan weed dares to raise his head in my father's garden:) Unfortunately, in mid-summer fighting heat, humidity, and insects just to pull a few weeds that will re-appear after the next rainstorm doesn't sound too appealing. Mr. Ogle may have been on to something:)

  16. Rose, I love a neat garden but find myself rationalizing for the same reasons you do--heat, humidity, bugs--that messy has its season in life. How else would I know to appreciate order without the chaos? Right now, my garden is a little of both. I haven't made much progress since the pic was taken. The ground is as hard as a brick from lack of rain, which has been falling all around but not right here!

  17. That Muscovy looks like a cross between a duck and turkey. I should be out weeding right now! But nooooooo, I'd much rather be reading your words. ;~P I'm not very sedulous when it comes to weeding anyway. Like many other folks, the heat and humidity of summer really get to me if I ain't careful.

    I've recently started fishin again. And fishin for bass in farm ponds is a thrill! But the biggest bass I ever caught was reeled out of Lake Moultrie, down in South Carolina many years ago. It weighed 8lbs 7oz. My biggest to date. I wonder what Micah would do if he caught one that big?

  18. Hi, TC! I've missed your regular posting lately. You're right about that Muscovy. It's so ugly it almost seems kind of cute. I wonder if the species is what gave someone the idea for "turducken," that monstrous conglomerate that's available around Thanksgiving time. As for fishing, I've yet to enjoy it quite as much as those times spent on the pond with my dad. Six-to-eight-pounders were not uncommon there. Micah hasn't quite mastered the art of maintaining silence while fishing, so it will be a while before he lands any whoppers. I'm so glad you stopped by for a visit. Hope to see you post again soon.

  19. I’m ashamed to admit that the only Muscovy duck I’ve ever seen was on a plate. Micah is so cute fishing. Wow, he’s grown. It must be fun to share your passions with another generation. It’s so nice to catch up with you.

  20. Hi guys! I thought you might both enjoy looking at these rock formations! It tells where they are each located at the bottom of each you might want to make guesses before scrolling to the end of each pic.

    Copy and paste:


  21. Sarah, it's good to visit with you too. I've been a bit lazy with the blog this summer and not visiting everyone like I should. You know, when I read your mom's comment (Correction!) on your recipe post, I had to laugh. I'm sure that something in my story doesn't ring true in my mom's recollection of that time period. I expect I'll hear about it soon, though she won't comment here.

    Julie, thanks for thinking about us when you saw the formations. SAM and I both tried to open the link but were unsuccessful. Not sure what the problem is.

  22. wonderful read. I try to keep up with weeds, but who can really do that.

  23. So sorry...don't know what happened with that link...just sent you the e-mail containing the pics! I hope you enjoy!!!

  24. Thanks, Wayne. I guess the weed issue is one of those tests of discipline we all (should) encounter at various points in life. I'm usually not very good at that kind of test. So why do I keep putting myself through the wringer?

    Julie, thank you! I will check on them today.