Pedagogy of the Plants

Archive for the ‘Poems & Quotes’ Category

Wilson Lick Ranger Station

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On the way up to Wayah Bald, a stop at Wilson Lick offers hikers a glimpse into the world of Nantahala National Forest’s first rangers. Construction began in 1916.

“It’s a widely accepted principle . . . that you can claim a piece of land which has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, if only you will repeat this mantra endlessly: ‘We discovered it, we discovered it, we discovered it.”

– Kurt Vonnegut

Written by Cameron Brooks

December 20, 2016 at 8:11 pm

Abide For A While

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Lake Hartwell Glass

“There are moments when I find myself so seduced by the life of a place, carrying on in the way it must, that all I want is to abide there for a while.”

-Trebbe Johnson

Clouds Over Coves

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Ian Marshall’s poems that accompany these photographs are from his book, Walden By Haiku.

Lake Jocassee 2

those clouds

     how they hang

          nothing like it in paintings

Lake Jocassee 3

dark now

     the wind still roars

          the waves still dash

Lake Jocassee 5

paddle strike

     the surrounding woods filled

          with circling sound

Lake Jocassee 6

a delicious evening

     the whole body

          one sense

Lake Jocassee 7

trembling circles seek the shore

     every disturbance

          smoothed away

Lake Jocassee 8

waves reflecting the sky

     a darker blue

          than the sky itself

Written by Cameron Brooks

November 8, 2014 at 10:28 am

On Spending Time Outdoors

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Wooden Sign


How do you fortify yourself?


Written by Cameron Brooks

July 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm

From Here to Blue, Orange and Green

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Big Island, Lake Hartwell


The island above wasn’t the first destination. But during that first trip to Lake Hartwell back in early May, it was the most curious.


2012 Lake Hartwell Satellite Image


Before throwing the kayak on the car and driving to the Georgia/South Carolina border, this satellite image (later doctored somewhat) offered an aerial glimpse of endless nooks to navigate. The image was captured during the 2012 drought, which is why every verdant land mass sports a tan outline.

Most public access areas around Lake Hartwell were designed and constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, including the upper and lower incisors of the Pac-Man shape to the west gobbling-up islands dotting South Carolina’s shore to the east. The plan was to paddle from Long Point Recreational Area (Pac-Man’s maxillary central incisors), to Elrod Ferry (mandibular central incisors).

After an hour’s drive through pastoral Madison County, I spoke to a man sitting on a log at the water’s edge between two arched fishing poles. Pointing across azure chop, I asked, “Is that Elrod Ferry?”

“Yeah, just across there.”

“And the South Carolina border?”

“See the dam? South Carolina’s on the left. Georgia’s on the right.”

It took around forty minutes to reach Elrod Ferry. Once across, I looked back at the man on the far shore and thought, “Why not paddle across state lines for the first time on water?”


South Carolina Shore On Lake Hartwell


To the naked eye (and novice paddler), the distance between Elrod Ferry and South Carolina was a bit misleading, but clear water and tangerine shore made the trip well worth the energy.

Buttonbush sentinels (sans buttons in early May) took root around the slippery bank. I hiked inland through a stand of pine, then up toward the dam.


Lake Hartwell Project Data


Couples and extended families with panting dogs walked along the dam under blue sky. A bearded man encased in a black leather vest like a sausage below a matching wide brimmed hat prosthelytized to a group of bikers seated on granite boulders repenting and sweating in the sun. Three red tailed hawks spiraled above the strangled Savannah River below. I walked back to shore.


Savannah River


Lake Hartwell Stone Stack


After stacking, the nearest island was next.


Abandoned Goose Nest, Big Island Lake Hartwell


Former downy residents’ homes proved spring renewal.


Goose Egg Pieces on Big Island, Lake Hartwell


Shotgun Shell on Big Island, Lake Hartwell


Violent fauna left manufactured remnants.


Little Island, Lake Hartwell


Three weeks after the paddle to South Carolina, I returned to the lake and put in at Hart State Park Outdoor Recreational Area (not the most creative name, given that the county, lake, town, dam and outdoor recreational area are all named after Nancy Hart, who assasinated seven men during the American Revolution – why not “Gallows Park,” or “Whig Dump Woodlands Boat Ramp?”).

A tiny chunk of land occupied by mica, sweet gum, buttonbush and five abandoned goose eggs rests a few hundred yards from the boat ramp.


Goose Eggs on Little Island, Lake Hartwell #2


Geese, hawks, great blue herons, striped bass, crappie and bream share Lake Hartwell with drunks on jet skis, pontoon and bass boats during spring and summer months.

Let’s hope the Canadian avian couple who produced these perfect orbs seek more privacy for their babies next year.


Goose Eggs on Little Island, Lake Hartwell



Scull Shoals

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“There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too.”

-Margaret Atwood

Read one story about smallpox, Georgia’s first paper mill, and a medical dynasty here.







Boulevard Community Garden

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Stone Pile With Wheelbarrow

So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow (with this soil).

Boulevard Garden Plot 1


Boulevard Garden Plot 2


Herb Garden Path


Boulevard Blueberries


Pink Flower


Garlic Flower


Purple Thistle


Author Matt Hern is the founder of The Purple Thistle Centre in Vancouver, Canada. According to his website, “We run a 2500 sq/ft resource centre that has a ton of supplies, tools, materials, classes and workshops,  and its all free.  There’s a library, bike fixing shop, computer lab, silkscreening room, animation facility and lots else.  And maybe best of all, the whole thing is run by a youth collective that controls all the day-to-day operations and really runs the place.” Matt’s latest guidebook for teens is Stay Solid!


Wandering Onions


Wooden Chair

Sheep Haiku

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Sheep Haiku, by Martin Espada

A lone sheep cries out:
There are more of us than them!
The flock keeps grazing.

Written by Cameron Brooks

May 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm

True Opposites

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Watson Mill Bridge Mirror 1

“The true opposite of obedience is not disobedience but independence. The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. Most profoundly, the true opposite of control is not chaos but self control.”

-Jay Griffiths

Click here to read Jay Griffith’s Orion magazine article entitled The Politics of Play, Seeking Adventure in a Risk-Averse Society.

Written by Cameron Brooks

April 7, 2013 at 9:28 am

State Prison Potter’s Field, Reidsville

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“Hello Darling,

Today I find myself a long way from you and the children. I am at the State Prison in Reidsville which is about 230 miles from Atlanta. They picked me up from the DeKalb jail about 4 ’0 clock this morning. I know this whole experience is very difficult for you to adjust to, especially in your condition of pregnancy, but as I said to you yesterday this is the cross that we must bear for the freedom of our people.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over 300 former residents of the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville lie below concrete crosses with black stenciled numbers.  Unlike Martin Luther King, who spent time here in October of 1960, these poor souls had no family to say goodbye, let alone write a letter to.

Written by Cameron Brooks

January 20, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Concrete Ingredient 1

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“The first three ingredients of concrete – sand, ocean creatures, and water – create the solidity of pipes and pilings and sidewalks and walls.  Reinforced with rebar, pressed between bricks, the concrete hardens, but only with time, which is the fourth ingredient of concrete.”

-Kathleen Dean Moore

Written by Cameron Brooks

July 18, 2012 at 11:53 am

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot…”

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Written by Cameron Brooks

March 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Wrens, Robbins, Eckermann and Goethe

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In 1827, Eckermann told Goethe about a robin mother who welcomed a pair of wren fledglings into the nest and fed them alongside her own chicks.  Goethe responded, “If it be true that this feeding of a stranger goes through all Nature as something having the character of a general law – then many an enigma would be solved.”



Written by Cameron Brooks

November 26, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Perfect Anomalies

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Written by Cameron Brooks

July 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm

A.S. Neill on Criminality and Ego

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“Crime is obviously an expression of hate.  The study of criminality in children resolves itself into the study of why a child is led to hate.  It is a question of ego.  We cannot get away from the fact that a child is primarily an egoist.  No one else matters.  When the ego’s satisfied, we have what we call goodness, when the ego is starved, we have what we call criminality.  The criminal revenges himself on society because society has failed to appreciate his ego by showing love for him.”

-A.S. Neill

Written by Cameron Brooks

May 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Arthur C. Clarke on Interest and Education

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“If children have interest, then education happens.”

-Arthur C. Clarke

Written by Cameron Brooks

April 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Arthur C. Clarke on Education

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“If a teacher can be replaced by a machine, then they should be.”

-Arthur C. Clarke

Written by Cameron Brooks

April 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Cicero on Current Middle East Unrest

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“There is nothing more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, and nothing more deceptive than the political system.”


Written by Cameron Brooks

March 8, 2011 at 11:59 am

Emerson on the Art of Life

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“We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Written by Cameron Brooks

August 29, 2010 at 10:31 am

Neruda’s Pregunta

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¿Qué pájaros dictan el orden de la bandada cuando vuela?

-Pablo Neruda

Written by Cameron Brooks

January 9, 2010 at 10:37 am