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, January 29, 2010

NN/SOTS: First to Be Last

Much Madness is divinest Sense--
To a discerning Eye--
Much Sense--the starkest Madness--
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail--
Assent--and you are sane--
Demur--you're straightway dangerous--
And handled with a Chain--
(a poem by Emily Dickinson, c. 1862)

SAM the doughy-butt bureaucrat--that's what he calls himself now--and I needed some serious recreation, and we found it last Saturday at Wakulla Springs, south of Tallahassee. After visiting the lodge and walking the grounds for a while, we waited with several other people on the dock where some pontoon boats were tied up, ready to take the next scheduled tour. SAM was sprawled out in a corner, trying to catch a few rays while I stayed busy with the camera. We were not paying any attention to how the small group of people had suddenly swelled to a crowd of about forty people and also to how a line was forming in response to one of the ranger-guides stepping into one of the boats. Then I heard a kid yell to his parents, "Hurry up, guys, I'm up here. We're gonna get the best seats!" SAM grabbed my arm and pulled me to the end of the line, not looking at all pleased. "Relax," I told him. Somehow I knew that my favorite maxim would come through for us again. As the French like to say: Le premier sera le dernier! And vice versa, don't you know?

A second boat and guide were added to accommodate the end-of-the-liners. We knew that we had found the mother-lode with this man. He introduced himself as Luke and proceeded to tell us, "This ain't no Disney World! This is the reeeaalll Florida!" I wish that I had taken video of him while he explained various aspects and highlights of the tour, but I was too busy trying to capture the various creatures he pointed out to us.

Luke slowed the boat to show us something really special--manatees. He explained that there are several of them living year-round at the Springs. There were actually two of them here when I took the picture, but only one of them surfaced near enough for me to sort-of focus on it. I am not that good at taking rapid-fire shots, the boat was moving ever so slightly, and I might have been just a little excited to see so much wildlife in one place. Most of my pictures did not turn out as well as I would have liked. They're a little fuzzy, but then so are my attempts at French pronunciation.

I thought that one of the most fascinating and mobile birds we encountered was the Anhinga. It always seems to be hanging itself out to dry.

The book I used to identify the birds once I got home--Luke knew them all, but I could not recall--the Reader's Digest Book of North American Birds, remarks that coots will swim over to join ducks or other waterfowl and perform pirouettes while stabbing at the water with their beaks. This strange dance is not for entertainment but to take advantage of the food stirred up by the other birds' feet as they paddle about. Their behavior is referred to as commensal feeding. I wonder if the coots also somehow know my favorite maxim.

Please visit for more of this week's posts linked to her Nature Notes/Signs of the Season meme.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane in Northwest Florida

Okay, so life isn't so exciting this time of year in Northwest Florida for most people. We, always the walkers, tried our hand at bowling on January 16, 2010, at Avalon Bowling near Pensacola, Florida, since the weather wasn't so accommodating for walking outside. Kelly Kulick, on the other hand--well done, by the way--might have some fine pointers to help us walkers on the matter of bowling. When the weather's in the gutter, you gotta thank your mutter for takin' ya to the place that might just set the pace for life in the fast lane... Our son at one time was keen on making his mark in the auto body scene, which is definitely something Kelly Kulick might understand. Son's game plan has changed a bit since his mutter--and vater!--showed him how to stay outta the gutter.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mutability: A Tin Can Tourist's Trip to Downtown Tallahassee

When the mercury dropped to record lows over the weekend, Secret Aging Man and I--temporarily known as Tin Can Tourists--had few options for entertainment, but that fact didn't spoil our fun. We awoke on Saturday morning to realize that we had not left the water dripping from the faucets as my mom had wisely suggested in her phone call the night before. Fortunately, the pipes in the camper were not damaged, but an ice plug in a hose leading from the outside faucet to the camper was obstructing the flow of water. A neighbor camper--much more experienced at this sort of thing--said she had filled up her water tank on Friday evening and disconnected the outside hose. I learned something else that morning: the shower house at the campground is clean, warm, and seldom used by anyone else, which is just what I like. With showers out of the way, now what do we do? The usual outdoor activities we have begun to enjoy around Tallahassee like hiking and garden walking were out of the question. A quick online search revealed a new-to-us treasure--the Museum of Florida History. Our treasure map took us by this fountain in the Kleman Plaza. Ice in a fountain in Florida's capital is not something you see every day.

I'm sure this plaza is filled with people on warmer days. We didn't see too many of them on Saturday, which is another something that I like. I get to take pictures without feeling like I'm invading someone else's privacy or getting stared/glared at.
I wonder what kinds of voices Florida women have that make them special? Is it just the drawl that sets them apart, or do those voices find expression in unexpected ways? I didn't get to find out on this visit. The ice plugged water line and late start in the day had prevented us from taking our time, and so did a supper invitation from one of SAM's new colleagues. I'm sure I will be back to get my answer before this display leaves the building sometime in April.

Florida's strange history would not be complete without a giant mastodon to consider. These giants disappeared along with the ice sheets that used to cover much of the earth during the last great ice age. No one has been able to figure out exactly why this happened. Were the furry beasts not able to cope with the blazing heat that soon became the norm, or did too many Fred Flintstones and Barney Rubbles find those ribs irresistible?

Here is another display that caught my eye. "Boots, Bustles, & Bitters" sounds like it would make a great song title. I'll have to get Daughter to come up with a good tune while I think of some lyrics. It will be something to keep our minds occupied on these long, cold winter nights and sure beats watching the idiot box.

It's too bad this idea didn't catch on back then. We could have avoided all kinds of trouble and countless debates over climate change.

Florida would not be the state it is today without the influence of these itinerants. I've become an expert in short order at this sort of thing.

I'm happy to report that our world on wheels is a little fancier than this model. It's perfect for one person most of the time and just about right for two people some of the time, especially when it's not so cold outside.

It's a little hard to believe that Florida's citrus history stretches this far back in time. That thing that looks like a crack in the wall represents a huge rift in the history. It was caused by another Great Freeze in Florida that occurred in the 1890s.

By the time I got home yesterday, the damage to the pink grapefruit trees had already been done. All of that lovely growth I was crowing about not long ago has retreated and left behind nothing but these brown-paper memories of former glory. The trees might still be okay if we don't have any more severe cold snaps this winter. There is a chance that new leaves will appear in the spring.

I finally coaxed Peanut out of the house and into the sunshine this afternoon. She will never get used to living in Alaska at this rate.

I filled up the cart three times today with trimmings from the frost-bitten garden. It was necessary to keep the yard looking presentable to potential homebuyers, and it's one of those chores I don't mind doing when the mercury makes its ascent into the range of normal again.
From low to high doth dissolution climb,
And sink from high to low, along a scale
Of awful notes, whose concord shall not fail;
A musical but melancholy chime,
Which they can hear who meddle not with crime,
Nor avarice, nor over-anxious care.
Truth fails not, but her outward forms that bear
The longest date do melt like frosty rime,
That in the morning whitened hill and plain
And is no more; drop like the tower sublime
Of yesterday, which royally did wear
His crown of weeds, but could not even sustain
Some casual shout that broke the silent air,
Or the unimaginable touch of Time.
--"Mutability" by William Wordsworth, 1822--

Friday, January 1, 2010

NN/SOTS: 'Expatiate Free O'er All This Scene of Man'

Awake, my St. John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings...
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
--from Alexander Pope's An Essay on Man, 1733--


By the time a New Year is upon us, cooler weather has usually lulled our Florida garden into a slower, more manageable growth rate. The past two months, though, have given us a run for our money with a greater-than-normal amount of rainfall. My pink carpet roses have begun to bloom again, and the lantana sneaks through the screened lanai. If I don't soon nip it in the bud, it will send even more shoots poking through the screen and wrap itself around our feet as we sun ourselves on the patio. I could imagine it dragging us by the ankles to the pool, over the edge of the concrete, and into the chilly water--if I were inclined toward something approaching nihilistic thinking. The recent climate-change conference in Copenhagen revealed a whole host of people inclined in that direction. Apparently, some of those people haven't a clue or don't care what sort of message that kind of thinking and behavior sends to children. Are we headed toward swift and sure annihilation, pushed over the edge of a climate-change cliff by a cloud of greenhouse gases? Who's to say? A bunch of scientists and politicians can't see the future, unless they have some supernatural ability I'm not aware of. Is it right to take sensible steps as stewards of the earth to protect it and its inhabitants? Of course--all of the inhabitants, including the human kind, deserve care and respect.

Expatiate free o'er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;

A wild, where weeds and flowers promiscuous shoot,
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.


Our pink grapefruit trees have put on a shamefully prodigious growth spurt in the past couple of months. Now that the one fruit has been picked and eaten, they are free to use their energy for branching out and putting on new leaves.

Daughter and Mr. T have also decided to branch out a bit. Why do you suppose he's on one knee? Look carefully at Daughter's left hand.

Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield;
The latent tracts, the giddy heights, explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
I don't remember much sign language because I haven't practiced it very much. Daughter and I took a signing class a few years ago. She had a massage client at that time who was deaf, and she wanted to be able to communicate more effectively with him and other hearing-impaired people. I went along to the class for moral support and because I thought we could practice together and not lose what we learned. Somehow, we managed to forget about practicing and have forgotten most of what little we did learn. I do remember some of the alphabet, though, and it seems to me that Micah is signing the letter "F" in this picture. Ever since he was a tiny baby, he has been very expressive with his hands. I've read that babies seem to have ways of communicating quite well before they even begin to speak, if we are careful enough to take note. Micah is already talking up a storm and putting coherent sentences together, but I think he still likes to use his hands. We were being told to smile for the camera, and he couldn't talk at this point. Or maybe he wanted to say something abstract like "I love my family" and didn't have the right words in mind just yet.

Eye Nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Yesterday I took a walk with Mr. T while Daughter was at work. He's here for a few more days before he has to return to Texas, and a walk seemed like a good opportunity to talk about stuff. I took the camera along because I had seen something along the road not far from where that falling-down house stands. Whatever this thing is, it's been in this spot for about a month now, standing up through repeated rains and high winds. To me, it looks like a version of Father Time, lifting up his arms. Is it in supplication or in warning, I wonder? I thought about pushing the weeds aside to discover what it's made of--plastic, paper?--but then I decided to leave it in place for other walkers to see and wonder about.

Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;
But vindicate the ways of God to man.
--from Pope's essay as above--

Guess what's on our New Year's Day menu? Beans, of course, and some of this beautiful stuff from the garden.
Please visit and see what's been keeping other lively imaginations busy this week in their Nature Notes/Signs of the Season posts. (I hope Michelle doesn't mind too much that I've shortened the reference to her meme to NN/SOTS!)