Robert U. Montgomery

Nature

Speed Trap . . . Slow Down!

Speed Trap . . . Slow Down!


slow down


This blind worship at the altar of speed bleeds into every aspect of our lives, especially for our children. Because we’ve learned we don’t have to wait, we dart recklessly in and out of traffic, cutting in front of other cars so we can launch from a stoplight one second before they do. We have no patience for waiting in lines, common courtesy, or even listening.

That’s why the attention span of students grows progressively shorter. That’s why movies must contain explosions, car chases, and gun battles if they expect to succeed at the box office. That’s why print media are on the decline, and that’s also why participation in fishing flattened in some states and declined in others during the first decade of the 21st century.

Actually “wait” for a fish to bite? No thank you!

Tournament angling has helped keep the sport vital, through its emphasis on faster boats and the need to cover as much water as possible during the hours of competition. Anglers “burn” spinnerbaits. Tackle innovators create reels with higher and higher gear ratios to speed retrieves even more. ESPN and other cable networks glamorize fishing events with helicopter coverage and heart-pounding music.

Am I a tournament angler? No, I am not. Competitors must put their fish in the boat as quickly and efficiently as possible. I like to play with mine, to watch them jump and tail-walk and, yes, sometimes throw the bait. If anything, I am the un-tournament angler.

I certainly do recognize the many contributions tournament fishermen have made to the sport, ranging from boat and tackle innovations to creation of a vocal constituency that finances and promotes conservation of our natural resources. I am an ardent supporter of fishing tournaments and happy to share the water with them.

Still, I believe faster is not always the best way in fishing, and from that I’ve learned it isn’t always the best way in life either. Those who don’t see that miss out on the many pleasures of the journey, as they focus single-mindedly on the destination. We each have only a limited amount of time in this life. Why rush it?

(Excerpt from the essay "Speed Trap . . . Slow Down" in
Why We Fish.)

Who Let the Frogs Out?

front cover low-2

Who Let the Frogs Out? is a fun-packed mystery for young readers, with eye-popping illustrations that make the story even more enjoyable. Bobby and his friends are afraid that they are going to be in big trouble with his grandparents because someone turned loose about a gazillion frogs in the house.

Have you ever been blamed for something you didn't do? Bobby, Benny, Matt, and Carl, also known as The Four Musketeers, are sure they will be blamed for the frogs' escape, while they are staying at MamMa and PapPa's house. After all, they did catch the frogs and bring them in the house. But they were in a terrarium, with a lid on the top! Who could have done it? No, who
would have done it? All of them love coming to the farm during summer vacation. They love sleeping on feather beds and catching big catfish in the pond. They especially love eating MamMa's apple pie and homemade ice cream.

And now this might mean that they won't be invited to come back.
Carl is especially scared. After all, he likes to play jokes on the rest of the gang. During a sleepover once, he put worms in Matt's pants pockets. But he insists that he didn't do it. So, who did? Maybe Ol' Fred, the dog, and Ol' Marge, the cat, know. But they're not telling!

This is the second in a series of books entitled, "Growing Up With Nature." The first was
Who Let the Bugs Out? The series focuses on outdoor adventures and experiences. It reveals interesting information about animals and insects and amazing facts about nature. You don't want to miss out on The Four Musketeers' adventures!

Who Let the Frogs Out? is perfect for you if enjoy:

  • Playing outside

  • Having adventures

  • Solving mysteries

  • Exploring nature

  • Learning about animals

You can find
Who Let the Frogs Out? and Who Let the Bugs Out? and all of author Robert U. Montgomery's other books at Amazon and other booksellers.


Bugged in Walmart

As I pushed my metal cart into the checkout lane at Walmart, a large, green praying mantis landed on the frame.

Startled, but never wanting to pass up the chance to have a little fun, I pointed out the insect to the cashier and said, "I'm not paying for that."

mantis2 low

Read More…

Tall Grass Delights

My house sits on 1 ½ acres, with much of the land sloping steeply down to the lake.

As soon as I moved in, I started allowing grass to grow unchecked on both sides. I did this to cut down on runoff and improve water quality in the lake.

Instinctively, I knew that allowing the land to exist naturally again would attract wildlife, but I really didn’t give it much thought.
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Creepy Crawlies


Creepy Crawlies



The next time the fish aren’t biting, you can always skip rocks or chase frogs. But here is another fun thing that you can do: Go exploring for creepy crawlies under the rocks and logs that lie in the shallows of your favorite stream or pond.


hellgrammite

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Who Let the Frogs Out?

Who Let the Frogs Out?




My second illustrated children's book,
Who Let the Frogs Out?, will be out this fall. These books teach kids about nature and encourage them to go outside to experience it for themselves.


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Here's an excerpt:

* * * *
When it got dark enough, we'd chase and catch fireflies, which our parents also called "lightning bugs." One night, Matt said that we should feed some of the bugs to a toad. "I'll bet his belly would light up," he said.

And he was right. It did! A little ball of light bounced up and down on the road in the dark as the toad hopped away. We laughed until our sides hurt. And the toad got a free supper, so I think that he liked it too.

Matt was like the "mad scientist" of our group that we called "The Four Musketeers." He made the best grades and knew lots of stuff that the rest of us didn't. My name is Bobby. And I tell you all about our gang--- Matt, Carl, Benny, and me--- in
Who Let the Bugs Out? If you haven't read it, you should!

* * * *

You can check out
Who Let the Bugs Out? at my Amazon author page. I also have Bass Fishing for Kids in Kindle format.

https://www.amazon.com/Robert-U-Montgomery/e/B005J1K9T2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

August--- My Least Favorite Month


(From
Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies--- Growing Up With Nature)

Ask me what I like about nature, and I can write a book. Ask me what I don’t like, and I need just one word: August.

Your August might not be the same as mine, especially if you live in a northern state. My August in the Missouri Ozarks is hell on earth, with no regard for the calendar. Typically it extends from the middle of July to the middle of September. But it could raise its demonic head in early July and its forked tail might not slither into fall until October.

What don’t I like about August? For starters, mosquitoes, chiggers, ticks, sweat bees, and flies. August is a banner month for them all here at my house in the woods. Only then do I barbeque before an audience of thousands, none of them human and all of them believing that I am the entrée. Only then am I crawled on, sucked on, and stung so many times that I feel them scurrying up my legs, scooting along my back, and whining in my ears --- even when they are not.
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Pippa and the Fox

fox1

I can't make up this stuff!

During our afternoon walk, Pippa darted off to my left to chase squirrels as we passed through a patch of woods. Seconds after she did, a young fox crossed just in front of me, going the same direction.

If he saw me, he didn't show it. But he definitely noticed Pippa. He stopped and studied her as she sniffed around a tree. Then he watched intently as she left the woods to roll and moan in some tall grass, as she does every day.

He was only about 10 feet from me and finally I said, "Hey, you," just to get his attention.

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A More Innocent Time

How did you discover that Santa Claus isn't real?

As a college composition teacher, I asked my students to write essays about that. Following the obligatory moans and groans expressed for every assignment and some pretend indignation that I had spoiled the holiday with this revelation, they wrote wonderful stories of childhood innocence lost.

As a writer and editor, as well as teacher, I can "read" the motivation in someone's writing and I have no doubt that this assignment moved them, as they shared their memories. Some were funny. One was tragic. All were insightful. With their permission, I shared the stories with the class, as we all came to realize that almost everyone who celebrates Christmas has had this experience.

My own is what prompted that assignment, as well as my book
Under the Bed: Tales From an Innocent Childhood. You can read how I made the discovery in the essay by the same name. Also, you can read about a secret Santa who brought presents to a Jewish friend and her family in "The Shiny Red Fire Truck."

Overall,
Under the Bed is about growing up during a more innocent time, before we allowed so much of our lives to be ruled by technology. It's about family vacations in the station wagon, crazy relatives, and playing outside until dark during the summer. It's about a time when the new television season was a big deal in the fall and kids fell asleep with their transistor radios under their pillows, listening to rock and roll music.


Robert Montgomery - Copy

Here's Why Nature Is Good for Kids:

Laura and Lily fishing

It builds confidence. The way that kids play in nature has a lot less structure than most types of indoor play. There are infinite ways to interact with outdoor environments, from the backyard to the park to the local hiking trail or lake, and letting your child choose how he treats nature means he has the power to control his own actions.

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Fan Letter for Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature

This letter was sent to me by a young man. It contains wonderful insights from a young man whose father tells me that he is on the autism spectrum.
* * * * *
Dear Robert Montgomery,

I love your book. I love it because I love the outdoors and everything about it. I agree that kids today use computers too much. I also love this book because it teaches me about everything from fish to frogs, toads to crawdads.
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Kids' Book Not Just For Kids!



First feedback for my new illustrated children's book, Who Let the Bugs Out?, came from four grandparents, and they all loved it!

And, no, they didn't love it because their grandchildren liked it. Their grandkids weren't around when they read it. They personally loved it!

I made the target audience for the book ages 9 to 11, believing that younger advanced readers also can enjoy it on their own. But I also suspected that grandparents who read the book to their grandchildren might like the mystery just as much as the kids because of the setting and the time, which was before cell phones and video games, when kids played outside until their parents called them in at dusk.

Meanwhile, first kid feedback was forwarded from someone who bought copies of the book for her son and his buddies. Here is what she said:

"We got them! Already sat down and read it! The kids liked it! They want to try and play 'kick the can.'"

In the book, I explained that Bobby and his friends played that game on summer evenings, as they waited for the fireflies to come out. Of course, fireflies are the "bugs" mentioned in the title of the book.

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kick the can copy

My first children's book was inspired by Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature, another of my books. Chasing and catching those little flashing beetles was a big part of my summer fun, as it was for many others from that more innocent time. Here's an excerpt from the chapter "Nature's Night Lights":

If you grew up in a rural area or even in a subdivision near woods, you probably chased fireflies on summer nights. It’s a tradition as uniquely American as baseball and Fourth of July picnics.

In my neighborhood, we competed. We darted about, grabbing as many of the little illuminative beetles as we could and stashing them in mayonnaise jars. Then we’d count each stash to see who caught the most, before releasing them to once again light up the night in their search for mates.

A former student of mine, Kathy Tyler Paul, told me that she and her friends used jars of lightning bugs as lanterns when they played tag. And Matt Ellis, a friend and host of the Outdoor Scoreboard podcast, said that his father fed the insects to a toad on their front porch.

“When the toad ate the fireflies, we would see them glowing in its belly,” he recalled. “That was entertainment right there, for a little kid in the country.”

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Sadly, not as many fireflies are around today as there were just a few decades ago, according to
Firefly.org, which includes both of my books in its educational presentations to kids.

“The problem is that in America and throughout the world, our open fields and forests are being paved over, and our waterways are seeing more development and noisy boat traffic,” the website explained. “As their habitat disappears under housing and commercial developments, firefly numbers dwindle. Logging, pollution, and increased use of pesticide may also contribute to destroying firefly habitat and natural prey," the website says.

-------------------------

Finally, here's a little something from
Scientific American that I'll bet you didn't known about fireflies:

"Flashes are the firefly language of love. 

"Fireflies use flashes as mating signals. The flashes that you see in your yard are generally from males looking for females. They flash a specific pattern while they fly, hoping for a female reply. If a female waiting in the grass or bushes likes what she sees, she responds back with a flash of her own.
"They will engage in this twinkling 'conversation' until the male locates the female and they mate. Each species has its own pattern—a code that lets individuals identify appropriate mates of the same species."

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LINK

Here's the link to firefly.org

https://www.firefly.org/

Welcome

Nature was my first love, and time has not diminished the passion.

Nature also was my teacher. From her, I learned about love and loyalty, life and death, kindness and compassion. And yes, the birds and bees.

My books, both fiction and non-fiction, are a tribute to my first love and mentor. Read them and you will know me. Read them and, I hope, you will learn, laugh, cry, and maybe even wax nostalgic about your own time spent in the outdoors, especially as a child. Read them and, I hope, you will be inspired to spent more time in nature.

And take your kids along. Youngsters in today's world are more in need of that introduction than any of generations past.

Share my books with them too, especially
Who Let the Bugs Out?, which I wrote especially for young readers.

Another I wrote with adults in mind, but children discovered it and enjoy many of its stories as well. At a book signing, one little girl told me that "the one about the toads" was her favorite in
Fish, Frogs, and Fireflies: Growing Up With Nature. I've included an excerpt from that tale at the end of this post.

I'll add more excerpts from my books occasionally on this site, as well as news about them. I'll also include articles, essays, and stories about nature, animals, and the outdoors, including my adventures, some intentional and others not so much. Maybe I'll even write about writing from time to time.

Please check back to find out what's new. Now here's that excerpt from the story about the tiny toad invasion of my grandmother's house, and how I might have been to blame:

* * * * * *

I’m not sure how much time passed, maybe thirty minutes or maybe an hour. Sprawled on the kitchen floor, I was intently drawing cowboys when my grandmother screamed. As my grandfather came running, she pointed frantically toward the door of my bedroom.

I’m not sure how it happened. When I looked later, the box was overturned. Probably it flipped over when I threw it under the bed. But who is to say? Possibly the toads had climbed on each others’ backs and popped off the lid. As they marched out of the bedroom door, they seemed to be engaged in a coordinated counter-attack.

My grandmother already was infamous for taking off her dress in the front yard when a grasshopper fell down her back. Her response to the toads was just as noteworthy. As their collective mass spread like some Biblical plague, swallowing up the linoleum floor, she jumped from chair to table, screaming “Ernest! Do something!”

From there, time blurred. But here is what I know: Some little known, but immutable law of science must state that toads placed in a cigar box under a feather bed will multiply exponentially.