Island Gardening

Since Eagle Watcher let Pierre post some of his
writings on his Internet site, I asked him if I, Mad
Jack, Pierre's former teacher, could write about
things from my point of view. We all have our own
reality. As usual Eagle Watcher, my friend, let me do
what I wanted to do even though he doesn't always
agree with what I do.

Let me tell you, it is not easy staying with
Pierre. I had no idea he was here when Eagle Watcher
suggested that I spend some time on the island to
mellow out after I left the classroom. It was bad
enough having him as a student, but living with him
all the time is extremely difficult. In the
classroom, I knew the class period only lasted 50
minutes and he would be someone else's problem. I
could always count on a break from Pierre during
summer vacation. On Eagle Watcher's island, which he
calls Manitou Outpost, there are no watches or
On the day the yellow songbirds returned to
the island, Eagle Watcher, suggested that I plant some
gardens at different locations on the island. Pierre
agreed to help me with the garden on Songbird Morning.

First of all, he tried to get his little tractor
started. That meant draining the old gas, pouring a
little gas into the spark plug hole, putting starting
fluid into the exhaust, pulling the starting cord a
dozen times while using every French cuss word
available. Then he repeated the above steps a few
times. Jim Dingle, the local fix-it-man, had not told
him what to do next if that doesn't work. I was of no
help to Pierre since I received most of my education
in a seminary. There were no shop classes of any type
in the seminary. (That is a little ironic since Jesus
started out as a carpenter.)

To make a long story a little shorter, Pierre
and I were about ready to get at each other's throats
and have it out man to man. It would have been a
great fight, but I could have taken him. Sure, Pierre
is younger, bigger, and stronger. However, in my
mind, I am still quicker and smarter. There were no
principals or school boards to answer to on this
island so I could have gone all out and given him an
old time education. I could have taken him.
Recently Hurricane Lee had taught me a few tricks he
learned in U.S. Border Patrol training. If those
moves didn't work, I also had my trusty shovel in my
hand. I could have buried Pierre alive. I was

The fight never happened. I heard someone
yell, "Time Out." Then Eagle Watcher came down from
his watching ridge, and went up to Pierre. They talked
a little and even said a prayer to St Jude before
pulling the starting rope and getting the engine to
run for a short time. (I don't think Eagle Watcher
wants that tractor to run. He whispered to me that he
doesn't like noise around his friends. They can't
hear God speak to them through the birds and the
waves.) Then Eagle Watcher gave Pierre a book called
The Complete Medicinal Herbal.

The last time I saw Pierre and Eagle Watcher that
evening, they was sitting under a birch tree eating a
dandelion leaf and flower salad as they watched their
nettle greens and fresh walleyes cook on their
campfire. They offered me some of their raspberry
leaf and rose hip tea, but I don't like eating with
hotshots. I had to get to digging up my garden with
my trusty shovel that works every time I pick it up.
The next morning I worked more on the garden on
the ridge. Pierre said he could not help me since he
had to watch his fishing bobbers and keep the geese
from eating the few remaining sting weed and
dandelions that are growing in the yard.

Tuesday afternoon I dug up another garden closer
to the dock area so I could watch the bobbers and
supply Pierre with worms. If it is a dry summer the
dock garden will do better than the one on the ridge.
There is rich soil on this island. I only put seeds
in the ground, never chemicals. I don't water the
garden either. The soil is perfect for holding just
enough moisture from the rain. Between the rows I put
grass clippings to keep the weeds down. I only
believe in planting and harvesting when it comes to
gardening. Some times I will pull a few weeds for
exercise with friends. Pierre never helps with
weeding since enjoys watching my women friends pull
This type of gardening works for me. If the
garden doesn't grow, I can simply say it was an act of
God and mow it. If it does grow, I know that I am
only eating the best of the vegetables, Darwin's
fittest, the survivors. Usually at least one of the
gardens will produce.

Last spring I planted a garden one day and left for
a month when Eagle Watcher and Pierre took their trip
together in the Porsche. When we got back to the
island, some things were ready to eat. By the end of
the summer, some beets were so large, one was big
enough for all three of us. None of us like beets.
Just kidding, I love beet tops and beet juice is
better than Pierre's White Lightening.

One rainy evening stopped my planting. On the way
into the house, I pulled a few dandelions and that was
my supper. The leaves really are good to eat and it
is a healthy food, rich in potassium. There are no
banana trees growing on the island. The leaves are
"an effective liver and digestive tonic. The roots
are useful for joint inflammations" and they taste
o.k.. Some are better than others. Eagle Watcher
knows his stuff when it comes to living off the land.
I think he helped to write the books he gives to Pierre.