Vade Mecum

Vade mecum is defined as a handbook or guide that is kept constantly at hand for consultation. The Latin literally says "goes with me."

Across a lifetime, there has been a series of important items I've kept close at hand, mostly books, but there have been years when a certain pen or a new insect net has been consulted as often as a familiar book. And, in recent years, I'm tempted to name places, lakes and trails, landscapes that have become treasured texts.

No book altered the course of my life more than the immense, book-length poem Letter to an Imaginary Friend by the North Dakota poet Thomas McGrath. The writing and its arguments taught me to think, refined my Great Plains dialectic, combining threads of agrarian common sense, folk surrealism, and an innate wonder for natural world. There's little doubt that this book was, has been, and will remain my vade mecum.

Posted on December 29, 2017 03:48 AM by scottking scottking


Photos / Sounds


Joe-Pye Weeds (Genus Eutrochium)




December 28, 2017 04:06 PM CST


Scott, you need to look at your 2017 stats! -- then scroll down to view your stats. You've done a lot of daily observations!

Posted by sambiology over 6 years ago

Thanks, Sam. My goal was to follow in your footsteps and post at least one observation per day for the year. Early on I decided to write an accompaniment in daily journal entries. The journal entries have often lagged because I'm a bit old fashioned in my method, having to write them longhand in my notebook first. I'm planning to get them all typed and entered and, then, gather them all together as a book. That's the plan. I've some new projects that commence in the new year, but hopefully I'll still be frequenting iNat. Thanks as always for your work and inspiration.

Posted by scottking over 6 years ago

Hey @scottking , do know that several folks have been enjoying your observations and journal entries! Not too long ago, @briang and I were talking about you -- perhaps your ears were burning! Although, it's cold up there, so maybe the flame couldn't be felt. :)

Posted by sambiology over 6 years ago

For me, regarding writing, it would probably be Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke. When I was struggling a long time ago a kind woman gave me this small book. I don't think it was necessarily the content of the book that was influential (though I enjoyed it) as it was the tone and realization of a slower, detached look (the calm vantage from an observer with much more life experience) on life, as well as the things it set in motion in my mind.

Also for me I can count many habitats themselves as muses...places to observe an ecosystem, single in on an insect, and more readily achieve some mental clarity. Maybe those with a natural propensity to observe cannot help but become fond of much of what they encounter, at least when they are guiding themselves.

I look forward to more entries and the book. I will try to follow your example and be more diligent in writing much more consistently.

Posted by briangooding over 6 years ago

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