#Civil War Begins

Click on cover for Amazon page

Click on cover for Amazon page

It’s been 153 years since the first shot of the Civil War was fired on April 12, 1861. Here’s the take of the weeks leading up to it and the aftermath from the viewpoint of a Union soldier, my great grandfather, Harmon Camburn. This is an excerpt from his memoir, Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier.

Spring 1861
It had been my intention to continue working summers and teaching winters, and with the money so earned to work my way through college. But the political ferment that had been so long brewing between the North and South began to assume proportions that boded trouble to the nation. The threat of the Southerners to dissolve the Union was being discussed all over the country.
Rumors of troops being raised to resist the government began to reach us.
The excitement was growing so intense that little else was talked of in the family circle, on the streets, or in public gatherings. Resistance to southern outrages was even preached from the pulpit.
While watching the course of events with absorbing interest, I had made up my mind to embrace the first opportunity, should there be any call, to enlist to help put down the coming rebellion, which no one thought would be more than a summer campaign.
Notwithstanding the boasts and threats of the South, the firing on Fort Sumter fell like a thunderbolt on the people.
[On April 12, 1861, Confederate warships fired on Union soldiers at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, to begin the Civil War.]
Immediately, the whole North began to organize military companies; and war meetings were held everywhere.
Then came the call of President Lincoln for seventy-five thousand men for three months. Michigan was asked for one regiment of ten companies under this call. Two companies were started in Adrian: the Hardee Cadets and the Adrian Guards.
The Guards being the oldest company, I thought they would be the first accepted; and consequently chose that company, thinking that perhaps that would be the last chance I would ever have to serve my country as a soldier.
On the morning of April 20, 1861, my father said to me at breakfast, “If you will harness the horse, we will go to Adrian and hear the latest news from Washington.”
On our arrival at Adrian, Father left me at liberty while he transacted some necessary business, and I made my way directly to the recruiting office of the Adrian Guards where I signed a pledge to enlist in the company for three months. I soon met Father and told him what I had done. After presenting all the arguments at his command to dissuade me from going into the army, and finding me still resolute, he said, “Go and do your duty, and if I was as young and strong as you, I would go, too.” When my father had gone home, I returned to the recruiting officer and signified my readiness to begin the life of a soldier at once.
Being required to write my age upon the enlistment paper, I wrote “nineteen years.” The recruiting officer sarcastically remarked, “Yes, three years ago.” And when I assured him of the truthfulness of my statement, he laughed immoderately.

My great grandfather served for the next three years until he was shot and captured in the Battle of Knoxville in late 1863.

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Slow Start to Garden

It’s been a slow start here in western Pennsylvania after a tough winter. My husband has been preparing the soil and raised beds for a few weeks. The seedlings are growing under grow lights. He puts the trays outside each day for a few hours of sun, if possible.

Peas under cover

Peas under cover

This weekend, he finally put the peas in the ground. And spinach seedlings will be put in the raised bed next to the peas later this afternoon.

Two years ago we put in raspberry plants and asparagus. My husband spent a few hours this weekend pulling the raspberry roots that invaded the asparagus bed. So far, we can’t see any asparagus coming up. Let’s hope the raspberries didn’t invade too far. We didn’t realized how invasive raspberries can be, but perhaps this is why most folks put their raspberries in a separate garden.

Where's the asparagus?

Where’s the asparagus?

 

 

 

 

 

How’s your garden growing?

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Click on cover

 

Here’s an excerpt from From Seed to Garden on raised bed gardening.

Raised Beds
Robert has been gardening using the raised bed method for several decades. I’ve come to appreciate its benefits as well. He rakes the soil into eight-inch mounds in three- to four-foot wide rows. He forms the raised bed from soil raked into a mound. The space left forms the paths between the raised beds and is an excellent place for mulch application.

raised beds

raised beds

The mulch we place on the garden serves as its own compost bin. We use straw from a local farm—we buy six-eight bales total in summer and fall. They cost approximately $7 each. I use them as decorative items in the yard until Robert’s ready to pull them apart for use as mulch. We also use mushroom manure, grass clippings from our lawn, leaves from our trees, compost from the bin, plants that have bolted, remains of vegetables, such as cornhusks, pea pods, or bean ends and strings. This material goes into the valleys between the raised beds to form a path between rows. It’s very easy to reach all the plants in our garden from the mulched paths.

When we first married, I was cautious about going into Robert’s sanctuary because I didn’t want to do something wrong or step on anything. After the first year of working with him in the garden, I realized his way of laying out the garden made it extremely friendly for me to go out and pick vegetables. Also, with the heavy layers of mulch between the rows, there’s very little weeding to do in the garden.
Raised bed gardening provides several benefits over regular garden beds. Because the plants are above the ground, drainage from the beds is very good. It also helps in aeration of the soil and the plant’s roots. It increases the depth of the bed. And my personal favorite, it provides excellent demarcation of the plants and the walking paths.

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Signs of Spring in the Yard

???????????????????????????????Short little post today to remind us all, spring is here. I’ll keep reminding myself of that this week. I’m in shorts today, but the weather experts keep saying there’s a chance for snow later this week. In the meantime, I’m enjoying a little color in the yard.

 

I planted pansies in an old bird water bath and in pots for the front steps a few weeks ago. So far they’ve survived a light frost. I don’t know how they’ll do in snow.???????????????????????????????

And the finally, I spied the daffodils in full bloom under the front bushes. Tulips have yet to burst out, but hopefully they won’t be long behind. ???????????????????????????????

 

 

 

 

 

What’s going on in your yard?

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Mutant Ducks of Raccoon

I’ve written about the mallard ducks in our neighborhood in previous years. And then there were threeThey come in March. Three males hang out for a bit with a female until the female goes to her nest either out by the mailbox or under our deck. These ducks have been inbreeding for years. A creek is just down the hill in the our backyard yet they stay in the neighborhood, mainly at ducklings6-13-12 010the farm where they originated.

I’m guessing that years ago someone bought a couple of cute ducklings for Easter presents. Now those ducks number in the dozens and really have forgotten that ducks belong near water. When it rains they play in the mud puddles at the farm. A few go in the tiny puddle while the others wait on the sidelines patiently. We don’t have mud puddles. However, this year when my husband lay plastic on the raised beds so the soil wouldn’t get too wet, the dips in the plastic formed places for water to collect.

Yep, we now have a duck pool.

Raccoon Creek Pond

Raccoon Creek Pond

Posted in In the Garden, Wildlife | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

#BP Oil Spill Four Years Later

Deepwater Horizon well BP oil spill 2010

Deepwater Horizon well BP oil spill 2010

Almost four years after Deepwater Horizon caught on fire and opened up the well that gushed millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, some of the long term effects are being felt. BP’s oil spill may be with us for many decades to come. Let us not forget the lessons learned. Safety standards must be followed and enforced.

oiled wildlife during BP's oil spill in 2010

oiled wildlife during BP’s oil spill in 2010

NWF Gulf Wildlife Report EMBARGO 2014-04-08

In 2013, I published the novel Trails in the Sand, which begins on April 20, 2010, the day of the BP oil spill. The novel chronicles the race to save sea turtle hatchlings as the oil approaches Florida’s beaches and lands in the sea grasses that serve as home to the infants for months before they venture further into the sea.

Loggerhead hatchling 2006 Photo by P.C. Zick

Loggerhead hatchling 2006
Photo by P.C. Zick

I ended the environmental part of the novel with hope that perhaps the barrels of oil dumped into the Gulf of Mexico dispersed enough to save wildlife. It’s disheartening to read what I probably have known all along in my heart.

To celebrate Earth Day 2014, which ironically shares the same anniversary date with the BP oil spill, Trails in the Sand is only .99 cents for the #Kindle version during the month of April. I hope you enjoy reading this novel of love and redemption.

 

 

Click on the cover below to go to the Amazon purchase page.

Trails in the Sand - Oil spill, sea turtles, and love

Trails in the Sand – Oil spill, sea turtles, and love

Posted in Society's Ills, The Changing Environment, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

#Gardening Update

photo (1)

Tomatoes

Things are moving slowly here in the Zick gardening world. Robert has gone out and covered some of the raised rows so they won’t get too wet to work. The seedlings are straining in the grow lights, but he was able to put them outside yesterday for a few hours of sunlight. I walked around the yard this morning and saw little signs of spring from the buds on the lilac bushes to the tulips and daffodils peeping up out of the ground. The plants are yearning as much as we are to burst out into the sun, but we’re all hesitant in case it snows again. It’s going to be a slow spring.

Broccoli

Broccoli

Spinach

Spinach

Spinach is usually in the ground by now. In 2012, we were blanching and putting away in the freezer by the first of May. Last year was another slow spring, and the spinach didn’t produce as well. Fortunately, I’m hoarding six more bags of frozen spinach from 2013.

What’s going on in your garden?

 

Click on cover

Click on cover

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Natives Lands – Chapter One

TimucuanWhen the Spanish landed near St. Augustine, Florida, in the sixteenth century, the Timucua (Spanish named them; the Timucua near St.Augustine called their village Seloy) occupied several hundred villages in one-third of Florida. Most historians agree they lived from St. Augustine to west of Tallahassee, and south to Tampa Bay. Much of what we do know about this group of Native Americans comes from Fr. Francisco Pareja, a Franciscan priest who served at a mission north of Jacksonville. Some estimates put the Timucua population at 100,000 in 1500 A.D., according to Florida’s First People by Robin Brown. (Click here to read previous post on the Timucua.)

However, by “1800 A.D. all aboriginal Floridians were gone,” Brown states.

I’ve never bought it. How does an entire population of people disappear completely? They must have realized at some point, they weren’t going to survive the Spanish invasion into their lands, so I imagine them banding together and escaping to the Everglades. That’s what the Seminoles (Creeks) did when they found the Spanish would not tolerate their presence in north and central Florida in the 1800s. The Seminoles fled to the Everglades. The white man couldn’t survive the harsh conditions nature provided in the Everglades. But the people who lived in balance with nature and respected its power and beauty could. My new novel, Native Lands, explores the possibility that the Timucua didn’t become extinct but simply went into exile.

The novel’s first draft is complete and ready for its first read by my beta pals. Even though the majority of the novel is set in contemporary Florida, there are flashbacks two hundreds years to Locka and the Seloy living near St. Augustine. Here’s a peek at the first chapter (in draft form). I would love to hear your comments and/or suggestions.

Native Lands

By P.C. Zick

Chapter One
1760 – near St. Augustine, Florida

Locka wiped the blood off his spear with his blood-stained fingers.

Their blood is the same color as mine, he thought. A chill descended over him, despite the heat of the morning air from the sun rising over the ocean to the east.

He looked down at the body of the man he’d stabbed through the heart.

“Go back to the village now,” he said to Mali who stood nearby holding the moss the Spanish soldier had ripped from around her neck and from her waist. “Stay to the river banks.”

Only a few minutes earlier, the day held bright promises as Locka left his village tucked into a grove of live oaks dripping in gray moss. He walked through the marsh, careful to step between the sharp reeds, as he headed east to the estuary. Rich with a variety of landscapes, the area was a great provider of food for his tribe, the Seloy. Locka headed for the estuary where the tide would soon be high. Locka wanted to reach the nets he’d laid the night before while it was still low tide. When the water returned, it would empty any of the mullet or snook that had swum into his nets.

He noticed Mali walking parallel to the marsh carrying a large basket. Locka knew that she was probably headed to the blackberry bushes between the tree line and marshes.

Locka watched her graceful movements as she carried the basket on her hip just above the line of her moss skirt. More moss, entwined with small shells and pearls, hung around her neck. It swung from side to side revealing her firm and full breasts not yet turned soft from nursing a child. He knew soon Mali would be married to one of his young warriors although he knew she wasn’t yet promised to anyone.

He wanted to turn away from watching her, but he couldn’t. Her straight black hair swung down her back, and soon, as the summer heat intensified, she’d wear it up in a knot to keep her neck cooler. Her almond-shaped brown eyes and her ample body made him feel the risings of something he hadn’t felt in a very long time. Locka found himself reluctantly and frequently mesmerized by her. She reminded him of his wife Suri before she gave birth to their son Olio. When Mali turned and saw him staring at her, he quickly turned away, missing her wave and smile. Even though his wife vanished five years ago after a raid on their village, he still ached for her and kept himself away from the young maidens of the village who were more than willing to take the handsome and brave Locka as their husband.

When he turned back around, he saw Mali nearing the bushes laden with blackberries. He also saw a white man, wearing boots and a tall metal hat, come out from the woods. Locka recognized him as one of the Spanish soldiers from the fort downriver. The soldier moved toward Mali, and when he stood in front of her, he reached for her breasts as Mali screamed.

“Locka!” Mali’s voice carried across the marsh to the estuary, but it only excited the soldier more as he pulled Mali toward him and pushed his leg between hers. With one hand holding her close, he used the other hand to rip the moss skirt away from her body, and then he reached down between her legs with his free hand.

Locka was on the move at the first sight of the soldier and before her screams rang out across the marsh. When he reached them, Mali was pushing the soldier away, but he held her tightly as he continued to probe her with his hands and mouth. So absorbed was the Spanish soldier in his abuse that he failed to see Locka’s approach.

Locka leaped from a crouching position and landed close to the soldier. Locka shoved him to the ground as Mali escaped to the side. She watched from several feet away as Locka shoved his spear into the man’s chest. He died quickly with the smirk on his face wiped away and replaced by the open-mouthed shock of fear.

Blood dripped from his spear when he pulled it out of the dead man’s chest. Locka reached down and rubbed the soldier’s blood on his hands and then smeared the blood on his face.

“He won’t bother you again,” Locka said without looking at Mali.

“Thank you, Locka,” she said. “I was sure he was going to either kill me or take me back to the fort.”

“Go back to the village now,” Locka said. “I’ll take care of the body.”
Mali reached to touch his arm, but Locka pulled away abruptly as if she’d slapped him. He turned his attention to the dead man as he cleaned the end of his spear.

“I’ll cover him at the base of the burial mound.”

Mali nodded and then headed back to the village.

After wiping the blood off the spear, he put it back in its pouch and slung it over his shoulder. He bent down to grab the boots of the dead man and dragged the body to the line of trees away from the water. When he came to the base of a mound twelve feet high, he dropped the feet and began digging a shallow grave with his spear. If the animals came and dug him up, so be it. He at least made the effort to bury him.

When he finished his work, he stood and looked east to the estuary and the river beyond. The sun was higher in the sky, and the water was returning to the mud flats of the estuary. On the opposite bank of the river, Locka could see the dunes laden with the orange sunflowers and yellow daisies of spring interspersed with the tall and spindly sea oats waving in the wind. He couldn’t see the ocean beyond because the land was so flat and the dunes were taller than his six-foot height, but he could hear the constant motion of waves just beyond the dunes.

Now that the water was coming back into the estuary, he’d have to walk to the beach and spear food from the sea since he’d missed the chance at low tide to find any oysters or conch.

Before going back for his canoe to row across the river to the dunes, he climbed another mound, this one made from the shells thrown there by the Seloy tribe for many centuries. From the mound, he viewed the different landscapes that provided his people with the means to live an abundant life during the warm months. The Seloy had just returned from their wintering site deep in the woods to the west a few weeks before. During the winter months, Locka missed the variety of their coastal home. Despite the violence of his encounter with the soldier, he managed to pull his concentration to the landscapes of the ocean, river, estuary, marshes, woods, and creek that flowed behind their village.

He watched as a few egrets and ibis pecked in the mud for the last bit of food from the flats before water covered the whole area once again. A lone great blue heron stood at attention at the line of water, patiently waiting for a fish to appear. During low tide, the birds were so abundant, they hid the mud. Now, only a dozen or so of the hardiest souls remained. A pelican flew close over his head spying to see if he had any fish he was willing to sacrifice. The sea beat upon the shores as Locka watched from the mound. From his vantage point, he could see in all directions. His village lay to the west in a low-lying canopy of live oak trees weathered by the constant salt breezes. A small creek ran behind their seasonal home. He surveyed the river immediately in front of him and let his gaze head south to the settlement of St. Augustine.

The sound of trees being ripped from their roots like a black bear ripping the meat from the bones of a fawn, tore through Locka’s heart as the Spanish cleared even more land to build houses and churches from the coquina shell weathered and crushed by the tides.

To celebrate Earth Day 2014, my Florida fiction books are only .99 cents on Kindle during April. Click on the covers below to purchase.

Tortoise Stew - Small town Florida gone wild

Tortoise Stew – Small town Florida gone wild

Trails in the Sand - Oil spill, sea turtles, and love

Trails in the Sand – Oil spill, sea turtles, and love

Posted in The Changing Environment, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments