Marge and I and our oldest son, Greg, recently drove to South Carolina to celebrate with our youngest son, Dave, the launch of the first official CD his band has produced. He plays bass guitar for “The Sea Wolf Mutiny,” a group of Columbia International University alumni (CIU was formerly Columbia Bible College). Now I’m old-school when it comes to bands—like the Grandville High School band I played French horn in. So these new-school bands will always be a mystery to me—just as their lyrics will be mysteries to my aging ears and brain. But God love ‘em!

I’ve gone to Columbia often over the past ten years and always stop by and visit the CIU campus (where Dave’s wife is now on staff). One of the things I enjoy doing there is collecting bamboo poles from the rogue bamboo grove out behind CIU’s building and grounds facility. If you know anything about bamboo you understand why I used the word “rogue” in reference to it. Once loose, it runs amok and muscles out virtually everything in its path—dead or alive! That’s why, of course, in its native habitat people have used it for an almost endless number of purposes—if for nothing more than keeping it from taking over. No doubt because of its ubiquity, bamboo has been an art theme for centuries. Because of my fascination with it, it has become one of my favorite photographic and art subjects [See my collage photo below—taken in Swaziland.]

Since Michigan’s climate resists the growth of all but a few extra hardy and typically small, varieties, bamboo has always been a fun “exotic” for me, and because I enjoy woodworking, I love to experiment with it. But my experimentation doesn’t hold a candle to what Asians have done with it over the millennia. My first experience of their creativity with it (and bravery!) was on a trip to India where I saw how they used it for scaffolding. Now this was not scaffolding for getting to the roof or upper floor of a house or small building. This was a work structure they used for the erection of tall office and business buildings in the middle of their mega-cities. [See the links to get YouTube videos of this hard-to-believe practice.]

As well as being amazed by its use as scaffolding, I’ve walked through bamboo mazes in California, photographed it in Swaziland, made rough flutes of it for the grandkids, examined different varieties at ECHO, an awesome Christian hunger mission in Ft. Myers, Florida, seen pandas munching on it in the zoo, made hiking and walking sticks with it, made vases with it, and, of course, used poles of it for fishing as a kid. I even tried the interesting form of fishing in surf-pounded rocks in the Pacific: poke-poling.

Now several rods of bamboo are drying in the rafters of my garage, awaiting the next experimental project. For sure, though, I will not be using it for scaffolding!

What does any of this have to do with “bamboozled”? Nothing, actually. Like I like bamboo, I like the sound of the word “bamboozle“—which seems to have no known link to bamboo. It’s a fun word—sort of like “gobbledygook,” which is also a totally made-up word.

See you outdoors!