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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chicks, Ducks, Pups, and Watermelons

Saturday afternoon, somewhere between I-75 and Downtown Live Oak, I turned around and went back to these roadside vendors who I wish now I’d asked whether they make a practice of setting up for sales in 95 degree heat or is the current economic situation their inspiration.
But I didn’t think to ask; I was too busy admiring the pale, buttery fluff of the Peking ducklings (raised for eating), absorbing the fact that when grown the toes of one chicken will be covered with feathers.[feathers growing on toes] )

I considered buying Guinea chicks, which would roost in my trees and make good substitutes for watchdogs, but the seller, Terry, who also sells dogs, assured me Guineas would not stay out of my neighbors’ yards.
I exchanged cards with Brenda Welch who was selling Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, and miniature Dobermans. Brenda is from O’Brien where her business is known as
“Brenda’s Lil’ Joys”
. She answered a lot of my questions and exchanged cards and I asked how much a puppy costs.
“Three fifty,”
she said.
“Gosh, that’s an awfully good price for a dog, three dollars and fifty cents.”

“Three-hundred, fifty,”
she answered.
There’s certainly much that goes past me.

Reading on the internet last night about the pleasures of solitude I saw where somebody, explaining why many people actually enjoy being alone, says that without distraction these people can more closely examine details. I would like to think so, but isn’t this the same as not seeing the forest for the trees?

Sunday, June 15, 2008


The State of Florida Department of Education just posted its Summer Reading Series and included SOUTHERN COMFORTS: Rooted in a Florida Place on the list. Before I leave the subject of awards for Florida books, I want to recommend The Swamp by Michael Grunwald, a masterful and highly enjoyable study of Florida's history; Grunwald won the Gold Medal for Florida Nonfiction last year and he deserved it.

Now that the book tour's been suspended for the summer, I'm tackling the next book, DON DOMINIC THE FIFTH. I'm amazed to find how much of it I had already written; I'd put it away in 1994, some of its files were mildewed, but I'm sorting it out and finalizing its prospectus.

NFCDS, INC.: Please do check the website (about to be updated) and/or my blog which you can reach from the website. In near future, there will be a second blog devoted to UPDATES on the work of The North Florida Center for Documentary Studies, Inc. (now incorporated as a not-for-profit); the new blog will be reached by link from the website.

Friday, June 13, 2008


If you were driving between Jasper and Live Oak yesterday afternoon, perhaps you saw a woman in a black and white striped dress lying in the ditch taking pictures; that was me, admiring the Gaillardia pulchella Fougeroux. Coming home I stopped to photograph a lush garden with sunflowers on CR25A.

Reader, I have not served you well; in recent weeks I failed to report on the flowering of spring shrubs, flowers, and fruit trees. Among this spring's wild plants that have already blossomed, dropped their seed, and vanished are sheep's sorrel, toadflax, the wobbly-headed Cinnamon Fern, and the wild blackberries and huckleberries I ate from along my driveway. Along our county roads I spot signs advertising U-PICK blueberry operations. Our Suwannee Valley Blueberry Farm right here in White Springs has a luscious crop of organic berries. "A bumper crop" this year,, says owner Mark Quitero.

I have passed whole fields of dandelions, admired the chartreuse fruits of the Saw Palmetto, Serenoa repens (Bartr.); untangled myself from Catbrier, smilax lavafolia Linnaeus); and passed many tall, white spires of Spanish Bayonet. The purple Spiderwort, Tradescantia ohiensis Rafinesque I first learned in my Alachua backyard has come and gone, along with the white bells of the Dwarf Huckleberry, Gaylussacia dumosa Andrews; also the Anual Phlox, Phlox drummondii (Hooker) which spills its colors like blackberry pie a la mode along roadsides. The Fringe Tree, Chimanthas virginicus Linnaeus on the opposite bank of the river dropped its delicate white handkerchiefs within days of their appearance; here on Lot 22, the Chinaberry has shown its lavendar, and the Mimosa is blooming now, also Swamp Mallow and Passion Flower.