Far Afield – My mind does wander some
Greetings. This is the first in a line of what I hope will be many years of enjoyable columns in the Beulah Beacon.
I picked “Far Afield” as a name for my column because when I let my mind wander, it winds up in some of the darndest places. You should understand that when I was a kid in a town no bigger than Stanton I was the one who preferred going to the library for recess to engaging in the ritual combat of the playground. I can’t say that I read every book in the library, but I sure made a good dent in the catalog. Whenever the class ordered books out of the Weekly Reader, it seemed like half the box was for me.
I chose to study biology in college because it required me to take chemistry and math and I went to a liberal arts college because it required me to take history and English and a host of other subjects before it let me graduate. So take it from me that even I consider myself grossly overeducated.
There was an old series on public television called “Connections.” Every show the host would look at an ancient discovery and show the surprising places that idea would lead to. A typical show would have something like shipbuilding in Holland led to the development of plastics (that was an actual episode).
There are days when my brain acts like that. I might start thinking something down to earth, maybe while driving down the road I think some fellow should take care of all that leafy spurge in his pasture. That may get me thinking about the flea beetles used to control spurge and how researchers had to travel all the way to Europe to find bugs that would eat spurge and nothing else.
Well at this point my mind might take off any which way, and if there is nothing better to do, I’ll just hang on and enjoy the ride. I might start thinking about how we need to encourage boaters to clean their boats and gear to keep the nasty invasive species that are tearing up lakes in Minnesota out of Sakakawea. Which then might remind me that it has been far too long since I have been fishing and I really need to pick up a rod and reel again.
On the other hand, bugs might get me thinking about other bugs. Take dragonflies. I always have liked them because they eat mosquitoes, but as someone who likes to take pictures of wildlife dragonflies, they are one of my favorite subjects. They shine in the sun like burnished metal in the colors of the rainbow, blue, red, green and gold. Their huge eyes, which lets them spot and catch skeeters, look like something from another world.
That of course, makes me think I need to check out some area maps to spot some likely spots for a photographic safari. Which might lead me to think of early mapmakers who came through this area … that reminds me that I should try to catch the Karl Bodmer art exhibit at Fort Clark.
You see what happened there? My mind took off and left the rest of me in the dust.
So I invite you come with me in these weekly columns as I let my mind roam far afield. I’m never quite sure where I will start or where I will end up, although I will try to circle Beulah and the rest of Mercer County a time or two in most columns. I may start at the bottom of the ocean or way out in outer space, but I hope to show that imagination and curiosity can take you anywhere if you’re not afraid to give them their free rein every now and then.