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, November 30, 2010

No Mo' NaNoWriMo--How a Flood of Words Became a Trickle

I took on a challenge at the beginning of November (NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month), knowing full well that I could not (would not?) attain my goal. You see, I had promised myself and thousands of other writers all over the world, a veritable flood of them--as if they could possibly know or care--that I would write a novel consisting of not less than 50,000 words in 30 days. My mind simply will not allow me to write like that. I can't force the words to gush out and somehow assemble themselves into a story. It would be like expecting a cypress tree to reach for the sky without any roots or "knees" for support. I did manage to start writing my first novel, but it's going someplace I didn't expect, and I'm not sure that I like it. Who's the boss here, anyway? Me or the story? 

Sometimes I need to walk more than write, especially when the leaves turn color--yes, they do that even here in North Florida--and the trees at Torreya State Park whisper that winter is right around the corner. If you listen closely enough, there might even be a whisper or two from Miss Chaffa. Remember her from the last time I posted about Torreya? She might look a little scary peering out of glass-covered bookcases, but she used to live around here, and you can trust her judgment. Ya'll come on! It's cool enough now to walk in the woods, and them bugs are takin' theirselves a break. Okay, so I've also been reading more than I've been writing. Right now I'm on Chapter 6 of Carolyn Haines' Greedy Bones. So far, so good.

Let others tell the Paradox,
How eels now bellow in the ox;
How horses at their tails do kick,
Turned as they hang to leeches quick;
How boats can over bridges sail,
And fishes do the stables scale,
How salmons trespassing are found,
And pikes are taken in the pound.

But I, retiring from the flood,
Take sanctuary in the wood;
And, while it lasts, my self embark
In this yet green, yet growing ark;
Where the first Carpenter might best
Fit timber for his keel have pressed;
And where all creatures might have shares,
Although in armies, not in pairs.
--from Andrew Marvell's "Upon Appleton House," 1651--
There may not be a flood to be found at Torreya these days, but a trickle of spring water draws SAM down a steep path that I would rather not try. It looks like a bum buster, and I've broken my tailbone before. No thanks! I'll embark myself on paths with gradual declines. I fit right in with that milieu.
If there were a flood here, the swamp would welcome it with open arms. I'm thinking Miss Chaffa would too, with bony fingers beckoning.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Al Dente Writing: To the Teeth or a Little Chewy?

Speckled Trout (Speck), October 30, 2010

Would you believe that it has been seven score and seven (147) years ago since Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address? I decided to keep track of important dates in history so I subscribe to and get daily e-mail updates. It's hard to believe that in this day and age--or any age for that matter--people could actually get writer's block and not be able to come up with something to write about. How is that possible? A fellow blogger and gardening mentor, TC, The Write Gardener, recently asked his faithful readers for some help with his problem of writer's block. Of course, he was referring to something very specific, which was coming up with 52 articles for a weekly gardening column in a newspaper. In case you haven't noticed, I don't write professionally, and I keep my blog open to many different topics. It's amazing that my gardening friends still like to visit here. I guess they don't hold it against me that I have a serious problem: too many ideas begging to be set free. And then there's the other problem of what form they will take. What subjects will they broach? (That's an interesting word, by the way) Politics? Nature? Fishing? Gardening? Even when I do settle on one topic--or more--the words I choose to describe it/them might seem a little chewy. Kind of like conch. It goes all over the place in your mouth but isn't easily swallowed.

I blame it--the writing, not the conch--on growing up with card catalogs in the library and an unabridged dictionary in the form of a book. I would start out looking at one thing and end up discovering something completely different. The Internet is okay, I guess, as a research tool, but it just isn't the same thing. Blogging is probably the next best thing to a card catalog. Take a look at my Blog List, and you will understand what I mean. Don't stop there, though. Take the time to read a few of the posts I've linked to (don't forget to leave comments) and then come back and read some more. Don't stop there. If you've already got a blog, link to the blogs you like. If you don't have one, what are you waiting for?

I don't normally look to Wikipedia for information about a subject, but this article is the most comprehensive and interesting one I've found about Lincoln's famous speech. He wrote it himself, and there are several different versions or drafts in existence, as well as firsthand accounts written down as the words were spoken. Just imagine: there were no recording devices available then besides a pen and paper. So much has changed and yet so little since those words came from the mouth of a famous Republican President. It wasn't so highly regarded then, as his political opponents were eager for him to be booted out of office. The Peace Democrats, known as "Copperheads," were deadset against the military draft that Lincoln had instituted earlier that year so that the fallen soldiers could be replaced with fresh ones. They wanted an end to the war and were willing to make concessions to the Confederacy to make it happen. Lincoln wrote and made that short and to the point speech to make it perfectly clear why our country was fighting the Civil War. I think he did a dandy job of it. It was most definitely "to the teeth."

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Snow Ball's Chance in Florida

Snow gardening in Wentzville, not Florida, Winter 1990-91

Snow takes a permanent holiday in Florida. Well, at least there's not enough of the stuff to stop the school buses from running and make the kids want to play outside all day when it's finally bone-chilling cold enough to kill the mosquitoes. They--the mosquitoes--have been multiplying like crazy in this time of high unemployment and foreclosure when properties must be vacated and untended swimming pools serve as breeding grounds. An evening walk had best be kept at a brisk pace now. It's also a good idea to continue that walking conversation with a talkative neighbor indoors instead of standing underneath the streetlight outside her house. Anyway, it's nice to think about the snow covering up the drab dullness of a Northwest Florida Winter landscape. Escaping the reality of a soon-to-be-frostbitten garden is now just a click away.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sweet Potatoes are Taking Over My Garden and My Thoughts--'Remember, Remember the Fifth of November'

Sometimes I wonder--and maybe you do too--if I tend a garden just so I can use it as an excuse to cultivate my convoluted trend of thought. The sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is a good case in point. A close cousin to the morning glory in the botanic family of Convolvulaceae, it has such interesting and varied ties to history, literature, and folklore that I couldn't wait to include it in my garden earlier this year. A lady waiting in line with me at the garden center where I purchased a six-pack of plants this past April warned me it might take over. She was right, but I'm not sorry. It has handily covered most of my barren plot of earth, not suitable for growing much of anything else I've planted, and I've already "robbed" the six original plants of their sweet tasting and nutritious roots. Next year, there will be even more, haha.

When I woke up this morning, I fully intended to write a post strictly about my sweet taters, concentrating on information about their nutritional value--they're packed with beta-carotene and potassium for starters--and maybe throw in a few ideas for preparation. Thanksgiving is on its way after all, and how dull would it be without a sweet potato casserole or mashed sweet taters to add some inexpensive color, flavor, and much-needed fiber to the traditional, weighs-heavy-on-the-stomach-and-budget feast? There would be yammering like nothing you've ever heard if I left these beauties off the menu. Or at least there should be.
 So, where did that simple post about nutrition and preparation go? By the wayside, as soon as I picked up one of my favorite early morning reads, Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening. It reminded me that today is the anniversary of the Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, celebrated as a national day of Thanksgiving in England--Guy Fawkes' Day in years past and more recently as Bonfire Night. Who? What? Guy Fawkes was a Catholic fellow who lived in the time of King James I, and he didn't like the way things were going with the Protestants in charge of everything. He was a key member of a plot to blow up Parliament using barrels of gunpowder strategically placed in the building's cellar. The plot was discovered in the nick of time--Spurgeon calls it a "great deliverance wrought by God for us." Fawkes did not meet with a happy ending, it seems. He leaped off the steps leading up to the gallows, breaking his neck and thereby preventing a slower, more painful death by hanging, drawing, and quartering. Terrorists were not afforded the luxury of mercy in days of old when knights were bold and a king's rule on earth was conflated with God's stature in heaven. It's a good thing for them that times and attitudes have changed.

Thank goodness for things that don't change, like sweet potatoes, among other things. According to this site that touts healthy foods, they've been cultivated and consumed since prehistoric times. They were introduced to North America, the West Indies, and eventually Europe by those forward-thinking Spaniards who discovered them on their gold-seeking forays into Peru and Ecuador. The Spaniards didn't like them much at first, but other Europeans soon found good uses for them. It seems that some health practitioners decided that they were aphrodisiac, and word got around quickly, as it usually does where sex is concerned. It must have been common knowledge by William Shakespeare's time. Some of his contemporaries called it the "venereous root." Shakespeare even gave the taters some notice, complete with severe-weather idioms. What better way to emphasize the climacteric plight of middle-aged men and women and their often tempestuous rage against age--and each other--in his comedic play The Merry Wives of Windsor?(Shakespeare was a player, all right--with words, of course):

Let the sky rain potatoes; let it thunder to the tune of "Greensleeves," hail kissing-comfits, and snow eringoes... (Falstaff in a nighttime tryst with a married woman who plays a trick on him, Act 5, Scene 5, lines 18-20.)
As much as I'd like to say that sweet potatoes were a regular part of King James' diet, lusty ruler that he was, I find no evidence to support that idea. I can say they will be a regular part of my family's garden and diet, now that I've discovered what a useful and interesting veggie they truly are.