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, April 16, 2010

NN/SOTS: Romance on Lake Talquin

Kayaking on Lake Talquin, 4-10-2010

Three weeks ago while I was asleep in Tallahassee, in the RV beneath the towering, pollen-laden oak trees, a dream slithered into my mind. It coiled itself around my consciousness and hasn't let go since then. I am watching a man on a flat-bed car speeding down a long, winding track. The scene looks like it belongs in an Indian Jones movie. The man is hanging on for dear life to the sides of the car as it hurtles towards the end of the track--a massive, double wooden door that belongs in a cathedral. Just before the car bearing the man crashes into the door, it swings open, and the man is discharged onto a giant water slide. I watch as he spirals downward, out of sight, and presumably into a body of water. A faraway splash seems to confirm that he has reached the end of his terrifying ride. But the dream and the man's ordeal are not over yet. A few seconds later--or so it seems in my dream--I see him again, dripping wet this time, yelling the whole way down the track. "I won't go again, I won't!" He grips the sides of the car, and as the door looms closer he draws up his legs. I know what he will do. He's going to kick the door open. Close enough to me that I can see the fear in his eyes, the man communicates to me that he has made up his mind. I understand that he can't bear the thought of being smashed to smithereens against the door. He is afraid that it won't open this time to let him pass through. The door does open, though now there is no slide, only emptiness on the other side. Once again, he is pitched off the car. I can't see his body as it enters the emptiness. The sound of his screams goes on for a long time, growing ever more faint. Finally, I hear another splash. It's morning now, time to go hiking if the weather is nice or to a museum if not. The dream goes with me, and I've told it to SAM. He says "I hope it's not me on that track!" Of course not, silly man. Would I just stand by in my dream and watch you suffer? No. If I couldn't derail that car, then I would leap onto it and hold onto you for dear life. So who is that man, and why don't I help him? The dream won't let go.
Double-crested cormorants, Phalacrocorax auritus, as seen from the kayak.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of those stories that won't let go of me. It's an Arthurian tale written anonymously sometime around the end of the 14th century, a romance, but not as many people today would understand the term. An adventure takes place, and it involves a journey. I think what stirs my imagination the most about the story is its structure. A mythical quest begins from within another myth--a tale of King Arthur and his "doughty knights." Only this time, Arthur and his knights don't do much except sit around the dinner table. Almost all of the action takes place within the central myth. The story has a wannabe spinoff quality. You know, like those shows in the 70s and 80s were apt to do--Rhoda from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Laverne and Shirley from Happy Days... In a nutshell, Sir Gawain lops off the Green Knight's head at the GK's invitation and then must travel a year later to find GK and allow his own head to be removed. The Green Knight doesn't suffer any ill effects from the decapitation, and one hopes that Gawain will also come through the ordeal untouched. Does he, though? You will have to read the romance (click on the link above) to find out.
Turtles and cormorant sharing a sunny spot on Lake Ella

When SAM and I went kayaking this past weekend, we couldn't have been more pleased to find the weather warming up and plenty of critters enjoying that warmth. I'm not sure, but I think the cormorant was telling these turtles that no matter what people might say, he's still the King Fisher in these parts. He and his kind very well could be, after having been nearly wiped out by DDT in years past. Now, though, cormorants are facing a cool reception by fisher-people. The birds have made such a comeback (prolific breeding, few predators, opportunistic feeding and nesting habits) that they are threatening the survival of aquaculture in several states and could be upsetting the delicate balance between other aquatic bird species and their habitats. The biggest problem seems to be that the darn things are just too good at fishing! Maybe that's why SAM's catch over a period of two hours consisting of one nice sized crappie and a small bass didn't add up to a meal. He gave the crappie to an old man at the boat launch and returned the bass, still alive, to the lake.
Of course, there are other piscivores making themselves at home on Lake Talquin. We witnessed several sizable fish being caught and carried back to osprey nesting sites. Unfortunately, my skills with the camera--and maybe the camera itself--don't allow for spectacular captures like that. I'm lucky to somewhat focus on the birds at rest in their nest. We also saw the ospreys chasing cormorants a few times. I think those pesky cormorants were getting a little too close to the nests for comfort. We were being watched carefully too, and when we stayed in one spot for a while so I could try to focus on the nesting pair, one of the birds would take off and circle around for a few minutes. It must have been trying to distract my attention away from the nest. Now that I think about it, SAM's scanty catch was probably due to my insistence on constantly doubling back to try for another, better shot at the birds. I kept him so busy maneuvering the boat with the rudder that he didn't have much time to cast.

He shouldn't have pointed out this critter to me. I was not afraid of it; I was fascinated by it and made him circle around time and again to get just one more picture of it. At first I was convinced that it was a cottonmouth. After checking my field guide (National Audubon Society's Field Guide to Florida), though, I can say with certainty (maybe?) that it's a Southern water snake, a Florida Race, or Nerodia fasciata.

...And each season ensued at its set time;
After Christmas there came the cold cheer of Lent,
When with fish and plainer fare our flesh we reprove;
But then the world's weather with winter contends:
The keen cold lessens, the low clouds lift;
Fresh falls the rain in fostering showers
On the face of the fields; flowers appear.
The ground and the groves wear gowns of green;
Birds build their nests and blithely sing
That solace of all sorrow with summer comes
ere long.
And blossoms day by day
Bloom rich and rife in throng;
Then every grove so gay
Of the greenwood rings with song...

(from the Modern English translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Marie Borroff, lines 501-515)

Please visit for this week's Nature Notes/Signs of the Season post and links to other bloggers' nature posts.

Note: When SAM came home this weekend, he informed me that the pic of the cormorant with the turtles was taken at Lake Ella during one of our walks around that park in Tallahassee. Oops! The fact that the cormorant was seen in town on a small lake at a local park just goes to show you that the cormorant's range has widened beyond its usual, more wild habitats. Odd birds, those. They are opportunistic with a capital "O" and depredatory with a double "d."


  1. It isn't the cormorants that are doing the damage, it is people. Nature always designs a perfect balance, it is people who destroy habitat and ruin nature's balance. People have developed, paved over and drained so much natural land that they have forced cormorants and other species to over fish what little water is left them.

    Sorry, I just never get off the old soap box about topics I'm passionate about.

  2. Hmmm, wonder what your dream means. I think time will release its secrets and it will all become clear. The ospreys are really cool. I like the snake too. Glad you identified it. It looks comfy there. Have a great weekend!

  3. Well...not only do you have an adventurous life, but DREAMS too!!! A little to lifelike for comfort...I wish we could understand dreams...seems there must be some meaning at times!!!

  4. Have you tried using a dream catcher?

    I sometimes see smallish birds chasing and even attacking birds much larger than they, while in flight. I wish I could fly. I used to dream I could all the time.

    I love the alliteration in the selection you used from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

  5. WOW, you get to some some awesome scenes while kayaking. Loved all your photos, especially the turtles and cormorants.

  6. cool birds... hope the memories of the trip linger longer than that dream... you would think so, but dreams can be quite powerful. peace be with you.

  7. Oh a beheading. That may the first time I have seen that on a blog!

    I loved the snake. I have always been fascinated by them too. I am glad that it did not do you any harm.

    Thanks for stopping by.


  8. Here's what your dream means:

    The track is life, yours or his or yours or his together, moving inexorably to the the door which is a transition (with religious overtones considering its cathedral like nature), followed by a frightening but but renourishing waterfall, symbolizing a rebirth of sorts, presumably spiritual in nature and probably of somewhat by chance ... The second ride represents what would have happened had not this fortuitous transition occurred (i.e., the near miss of it not happening and not unlike survivor's syndrome).

    Just my spin on it ...

  9. If I were a psychologist, I think I'd have a grand time trying to interpret your dream. Perhaps if the man in the dream is noble and true like Sir Gawain, everything will work out in the end for him, too.

    Enjoyed your nature walk today, but I wouldn't have gotten a close-up of a snake if it were me. I would have been heading down that water slide with the man in your dream as quickly as I could:)

  10. Sometimes our times would relate something to us not really meaning what we see in the dream - there might be some hidden meaning in them. I don't remember my dreams (I guess you can't mostly according to science), but some I remember would be about me stuck amidst humongous animals or really really weird ones! I wish I too knew what my dreams meant!

    Nice shots of the cormorants on turtles! I loved touring with you in the wilds! Hope you had a great weekend!

  11. I agree with you, Marnie, that over-development is probably the key factor in this dilemma with the cormorant. In this particular situation, Lake Talquin is a manmade lake, created by damming up a river to provide cheap, clean, sustainable hydroelectricity to many of the area's residents. So the more challenging fishing environment of the river has been altered to create a fishbowl of opportunity to the cormorants. Since life is so good for them on the lake, they breed like crazy and tend to take over. It's just in their nature, and there's not much that can be done about the situation at this point. What began as a great idea to be "green-wise" has created a problem with nature. It's a great example of why many environmental "solutions" usually create more problems of their own.

    Thanks, Tina! I had a great weekend with the whole family. I think Mr. Sobczak may have solved the mystery of my dream!

    Julie, my life is pretty much plain vanilla most of the time, except for dreams and little excursions like this one. I may just have an overdeveloped imagination. I'll blame it on blogging:)

    TC, I used to have flying dreams too. I guess getting older (heavier?) has grounded this dreamer. No, I've never tried a dream catcher. How do they work?

    Thanks, Eileen! I'm a little sad today because we have decided to sell the kayak. It's a tandem one and very heavy, requiring two relatively strong people to launch it into the water from the back of the truck and of course return it to same when done. SAM did it by himself a couple of times a few weeks ago and has strained his back. We're just falling apart, the two of us bad-backers!

    Wayne, I feel much better about the dream after reading what Mr. S has suggested about it. It sounds plausible to me.

    Rosey, I hope that my blog is always full of surprises. I wouldn't want it to ever become humdrum.

    Thank you, Mr. S! I feel a lot better about the dream now, really! It never occurred to me to think about the "happy ending" being the first time down the track. Fascinating! You are one amazing hydrologist.

    Rose, I'm sure you've read Sir G and the GK. Remember the lesson Sir G has to endure? And he was about as noble as knights can be/were. Snakes aren't as scary as most people imagine. This one was quite content to remain curled up, sleeping in the sunshine.

    Chandramouli, thanks! I did have a great weekend, and I'll be around to visit later today. Dreams are the darndest things, aren't they? Freud would probably have had a field day with this one, but most psychologists now don't give him much credit. They're exploring new theories instead of relying on the same old tired ideas. I like Mr. Sobczak's theory. I hope you can figure out what your dreams mean. They're fun to think about anyway.

  12. Your dream is intriguing. Thanks for the heads up LOL about the Green Knight.

  13. Nature at its best.
    Love that picture of the turtles sunbathing.

  14. You're welcome, Ann! I figured a synopsis of the story would give everyone who wished to read it a head start:)

    Haddock, I'm glad you like the pics. I had a lot of fun taking them.

  15. Thanks for stopping in at Sunshine Hill...your visit brought me here. This place is intriguing to the eye as well as the mind and imagination. Your dream is awesome. I have vivid ones too -- several a night -- providing images for writing and meditation.

  16. How dare those cormorants impose on the entitlement of human existence. Wonderful post today. I thoroughly enjoyed spending a few quiet moments reading. You have such a gift of words. I'm envious that you are already out in your kayaks. It's now quite paddling season here. ~karen

  17. Thank You very much for your comment on one of my past blog posts..Thanks for giving me a philosophical touch to it with your beautiful comment..

  18. Sounds as if you have entered one of my crazy dreams! lol. Your Cormorant looks as though a teacher amongst the class of turtles! We checked on the osprey nest at our lake last weekend but found the nest quiet. Not sure if they are in it this year or not. Our next lake trip should let us know more. Also while at the lake, we spotted two rather large (5 feet or more) snakes falling down a hillside towards the lake together. It did not take us long to realize they were not fighting but rather tangled up in a love hold on each other. We dont know too much about water snakes so we decided to leave them be to mate in private plus that ensured they would not come on the boat with us. If only I had the camera with me that day. Hum, think anyone would have been interested to see snakes mating? Hee hee…

  19. did I mess up? the rest isn't translated yet and here I read and enjoyed and how did I miss this post?

    Cormorants are killed here in the 'mistaken' belief that they take fish from fisherman...after all everything is for man's pleasure isn't it...

  20. Oh, it's been too long since my last comment!

    Christin, I'm so glad you came by and left a comment. I think we connected via Mr. Stratz's blog. Time and a decent Internet connection have been lacking for me lately, so I haven't been blogging much. This is the first time I've been brave enough to talk about a particular dream, and I'm sure I'll attempt it again. All of the comments have been helpful and kind. Thank you!

    KaHolly, I was aiming for that thought you expressed about human entitlement. I guess I sort of hit the mark:) This post about the kayak was a prelude to saying goodbye to it:( We had to sell it last week because of persistent back problems. It's a heavy tandem kayak, and neither one of us should be lifting that much weight. We did enjoy using it for the last four years. I hope you get to enjoy the water in yours this summer.

    You're welcome, Tomz! I enjoy reading your creative, thought-provoking posts.

    Skeeter, you crack me up! Snakes mating would be a great Nature Notes post. It's really too bad you didn't get a video of them. You probably could have sold it to National Geographic. So you have crazy dreams too? I'm glad I'm not the only blogger with a vivid nighttime imagination. Have fun on the lake this summer!

    Michelle, I'm not sure what you mean by translated, unless it's trying to decipher my silly style of telling a story:) I'm pretty sure I signed in with Mr. Linky on your blog. You're not too late with the comment. I appreciate it very much. Yeah, humans have this strange notion that the world and all of its wonders are their playthings to use and then toss aside. What a myth that is!

  21. Fascinating as always. Traveling by canoe is absolutely one of the best way to see and enjoy nature. You become part of the landscape and the creatures barely notice you. Thanks!

  22. This is so beautiful and lovely !!I really love reading your experiences!!Great post as always !!Also please visit my New Blog About Paranormal Studies of India.Click on the Link to view it Unseen Rajasthan Paranormal

  23. Beautiful words and fantastic shots !! Simply amazing !!

  24. Is there camping at Lake Talquin. The lake looks quite pristine and tranquil. Those cypress trees invoke so many memories of childhood on the Suwannee River.

  25. Thanks, TB and UR! We are going to miss the kayak, but we will somehow find a way to enjoy the lake and its inhabitants.

    Suwanee Refugee, there is camping allowed in various spots around the lake, primitive style as well as camping in comfort. In fact, there was a campground right next to the landing where we launched the kayak. I will find a site detailing them and provide you with a link in a comment on your blog. Thanks for commenting here!

  26. i am enjoying your blog and your photos are outstanding.