Do you remember the gut-wrenching, heart-stopping , lonely, empty, isolated feeling you had to survive when the love of your life jilted you in high school? I’ve been through this experience at least thirty times in my life, but it wasn’t girls and then women. No sir, it was a Northeast wind coupled with a full moon producing a condition that drew the salt water up and over the marsh. We Cracker boys call this unique meteorological phenomenon A Marsh Hen Tide!
Yesterday it was summer, today it is fall. Oh, it’s still Hot, but not a searing in your lungs when you inhale hot. Subtle, unperceivable, little hints that you know. Today I smelled scents new to the season. The wind was even so slight from the Northeast. I discovered a bird’s nest, long abandoned and tattered. The grass is not growing so fast now. I saw acorns fresh fallen under a water oak tree. Yes, tomorrow it might be summer again, but today it is fall.
After a long Hot summer in Northeast Florida, with absolutely no hunting because the legal season is closed coupled with the fact that red bugs and ticks preclude any excursion into the swamps and piney woods. September finally arrives and with it comes Northeast winds. It’s the first time in four months you actually believe that fall and later winter might exist.
Now I know we live in an era where it’s very popular to be against hunting in any form. I’m convinced that thousands of people would much rather see a human hunter shot than the little birds he pursues. Or a herd of deer starve to death instead of being harvested by a hunter. Not me, maybe I have not evolved that far. Call me stupid but I believe that man is the top of the food chain.
When the winds of September start to stir and the fall moon is in the morning sky, I shall as long as I am physically able, stand in the bow of a boat and taste the salt spray, smell the oyster-like odor of the marsh, feel the coolness of the wind, hear the cacophony of rail birds singing in unison. You see I can in no way control this longing. Call it my weakness.
I Feel A Poem Coming On
He slumped as he stood, left hand on the mantel –tree. Father to my Mother, Grandpop to me. A hardworking , self-educated man all his life, his hand shook with palsy from toil and strife.
The siblings hushed she started to speak. Even though he was shaking, and his voice was weak. We had heard many times this speech through the years, bit I always started a flood of tears.
He had but one poem committed to memory. The one about a blacksmith under a chestnut tree. To his family he was the Smitty he spoke of and I thank God for all his love.
Extremely wet 8” of rain in January
Had Joe Sylvester disc the plot five times, limed before. Had to rake before planting with root rake as the soil was full of ribbon grass and briar roots.
Planted English Peas (Snow), Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Leeks, Tomatoes, Butter Beans, Okra, Pole Beans, Squash (yellow and zucchini), Corn, Egg Plant, Broccoli, Cabbage, Leaf Lettuce, Herbs, Peppers.
Potatoes-four rows. Red Pontiac- yield I would consider fair. Lime, cow manure- commercial. Cabbage – lime, borax, cow m,anure commercial- planted too late would not head up. Could not get to germinate oregano, thyme and other herbs. Basil did well, parsley-fair. Dill-very good. Snow Peas (dwarf sugar greys) good yield. Have to support “note” Carrots did not germinate (too Late?) Mustards did very well added Sodium Nitrate to boost-took it well
Tomatoes- Hastings Red Chief, Better Boy, Statebreaker. Grew seed in window box at Condo. Plants small. Dug in leaves, cow manure commercial, borax, fish heads, 30days before transplanting. Wilt or nematodes, bloom bud rot, you name it, I had it. Plants would wilt and then die. Hard Woody porous, knotty, texture under epidermis. One-half or less yield. I am not pleased, because I worked harder on the tomatoes than anything else.
Snap Beans- Blue Lake – 3 rows did very well. Yield – maybe 7-10 bushels. We prefer taste of Pole Beans. Plant less next year max – 2 rows.
Isaac is 1 year old and loves the garden, particularly the flowers (bloom). I hope I will have a helper by '85.
Beets, slow to germinate. Nursed along made a pretty fair crop. Put some up pickled – mmm good. Having trouble with the 2 people that bought the restaurant. They think we are a dumb bunch. I've seen a million of those kind. Patsy and I have been staying in our A-Frame in Yulee. Keeping Isaac 3 times a week (love it). We have plans to build our dream home here. My roots are deep here.
Pole Beans can't ever use 2 X 4 cross for trellis, won't stand the weight. Next year 4 X 4 with heavy wire and turn buckle.
Little man, there is so much I want you to know about life,
about joy, and sorrow--strife.
Would that you could glean from me is, my experience, my wisdom.
My hands and heart are rent with scars.
I have bled, I have lived, loved. Your blood is my blood.
You came from my root stock.
I expect more than I should of you, forgive me.
It is because I love your Mother and Father so much
and the thoughts of our forfathers that I so love rings in my ears.
How I wish you could have known my Grandfather and Grandma.
You would have adored them.
I fervently pray that I can impart in you the spirit of fellowship,
the value of friendship, the covenant of love that is so important to life.
You my Grandson are the son I could not have.
Life with Nobby
His name was Beauchamp-Nobbs, in Jacksosnville he was known as Beechum, or Nobby. He was born in England coming to America in about 1925. Schooled in private boarding , complete stern Headmaster. As a young adult he reportedly served in the English Calvary. I can tell you this he was forever more a character.
He was my Mothers third Husband and a more tempestuous marriage could not have existed.My Mother broke up his marriage. She worked as he secretary and was fifteen or twenty years younger. He had a son my age, Beachamp-Nobbs, Jr.
“I chased a bug around a tree I’ll get his bloody nose I will.” He had litterly hundreds of quips, sayings, and limericks of and early English childhood. After completing one, he would frown and say, “ Good God where did that come from?” He was about five foot seven inches, has a neat little moustache, he darkened with mascara, and chain smoked filtered- tipped cigarettes.
On Sundays, often the three of us would load up in Nobby’s ‘46 Dodge, and head for the beach. We always went to the same spot. It was Nobby’s private beach place. Not Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic or Neptune, it was East of there almost to the Mayport Jetties, (the location two cabbage Palm trees known only to us.)
To a boy of seven or eight it was an adventure of the highest order. First you had to get onto the beach with the car. Deep sand had to be traversed on the beach side of the ramp. Twenty percent of the time we would get stuck. This was no real problem as there was but one set of tracks offering ingress and egress , so it was just a matter of time before someone wanted to come or leave . Therefore, but necessity help would arrive shortly.
At low tide the beach would be two to three hundred yards wide. At high tide, sometimes no beach at all making it impossible to drive.
I am, or have been most of my life, what people call an observer. I would like to think I am a good listener. Confiding my inner thoughts only to very close friends or complete strangers. Often shocking them with the truth of it all. I have felt to “bare my soul” was only my business plus one other person, my wife, Patsy. The point being; a person like me who has been so private with his thoughts, has a difficult time sharing his inner secrets with other people.