Weed and Water
by Ian Dexter Palmer, Ph. D.
A mysterious stranger helps a teenage boy called Ethan rescue his mentor, an elderly father-figure, from drowning when their canoe capsizes in a flooding river. A star athlete, Ethan later gets involved in unsafe sex, which leads to drugs, and gets him blackballed by jealous and gossiping team-mates. The boy is going down, and at times hates himself for it and for hurting his mom who is a caring, loving, and beautiful woman.
After another disastrous episode, where Ethan might have died, the river-stranger turns up again to confront him about his life choices. However, even after rehab, the boy’s condition is marked by a yo-yo attitude which causes massive emotional heartache for his mom.
The river-stranger, after sharing his own amazing history, suggests taking the fight to another level which draws on the resources of God. This begins a new and fascinating sequence of events, including a tornado, which get Ethan’s attention.
This book is a captivating story, packed with adventure in the desert Southwest and in the rivers and lakes of the Midwest USA. But it is also a goldmine of spiritual wisdom for teenagers. The mystery that permeates the story is compelling, and the thrilling ending may call for a tissue or two.
Originally from Australia, Ian lives in the high desert in his beloved Southwest USA. As a petroleum engineer, recently retired, he consulted all over the world.
When he hik
es with them or watches them play sports, Ian’s grandchildren are a particular source of happiness.
His main interests are hiking, dancing, writing, and stimulating conversation.
Ian regularly writes a new blog on various topics relating to Christian faith, and has also written a book called Hiking Toward Heaven.
You can find out more about Ian and his books at http://www.iandexterpalmer.com/
IAN: Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you! While living in the USA, I was invited to a conference in Townsville, Australia, to be the keynote speaker at dinner. The reason for the conference was to share experiences about Australia’s budding natural gas industry. Townsville is a tropical town real close to the Great Barrier Reef. On a balmy evening, we enjoyed shrimp and scollops and Moreton Bay bugs, a smaller species of local lobster. I popularized my talk, as the dinner outdoors included many wives and girlfriends. I added some funnies between slides, the drinks flowed, and a glow of happiness spread all around.
The next day was an open-day at the conference. Mary who had traveled with me sailed out to the Great Barrier Reef. I was sick in the morning and had to cancel. Although scared of water, she agreed to don mask and flippers only after a friend of mine, Steven, offered to stay close to her. The water was clear and the reef colors spectacular. Steven even took her to the edge of the black abyss, which was awfully scary to a woman already afraid of water.
I felt better in the afternoon, and took a long hike around Magnetic Island to Balding Bay, a particularly pretty beach framed by giant boulders in a pincer pattern. Surprise…. it was a nudist beach with quite a few folks lolling in the sand. It was a warm day, and the only swimsuit I saw was my own. The views of the bay and the delightfully cool water are stamped on my memory.
IAN: What can we expect from you in the future? I am writing a memoir. First, about my career, which started out in space physics: cosmic rays that travel from sun to earth. Got a Ph.D. out of this weird stuff. I was studying how these energetic protons and electrons travel across interplanetary space. Then came a solo year in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where they built the bomb. Finally, I jumped ship to the oil and gas industry where I became a petroleum engineer who studied fracking.
Second, about my personality. As a young man, I lacked confidence in my abilities. To correct this, I worked too hard. When I reached age 40, I realized I was better than I thought I was, and my confidence returned. Now I was able to market my work successfully, and my social skills took off too.
Third, about my relationship with God. I always believed, but as I look back I can see the hand of God intervening in my life. Not just once, or a few times, but many times. As a result, I have now learned to ask God for insights and wisdom, and I do this on most days.
IAN: Where were you born/grew up at? I was born in Australia, so I’m an Aussie. I was raised in Jamestown, a farming area in South Australia – a state larger than Texas. The locals only added up to 1,500 people, but the frequent farmhouses dotted across the rolling hills enlarged this number. Farming was mainly wheat and sheep. More sheep than people – only 20 million people in a land as large as the continental USA where 350 million people live. Every Sunday my mother would roast a leg of lamb surrounded by rings of veggies: potatoes, peas, and pumpkins. Roasted pumpkin was my favorite, along with lamb and mint sauce. When folks ask me if I miss Australia, my answer is no, not really – except for lamb and mint sauce and roasted pumpkin.
When I was a kid, there were rabbits and kangaroos everywhere. Once during a rabbit plague, we had to slow the car to avoid hitting rabbits who came to feed on the taller grass near the roadside. We stopped the car. It was night time, and the rabbits were confused by the headlights. We ran around and tried to catch them with our hands, and we almost did.
Kangaroos lived about 40 miles away in the real desert. One night we chased one along a dirt road while we were doing 40 mph. I didn’t know kangas could run that fast. We picked up a baby kangaroo, called a joey, when he could barely walk. My mom fed him milk with an eyedropper. We called him Rawnsey after the name of a mountain. We built him an artificial pouch out of a burlap bag we mounted on a wall. We cut a hole in the side. Rawnsey would dive in headfirst, then do a somersault until his head was poking out the hole. He slept there in his own “pouch” until he grew up.
Ian: What book do you think everyone should read? The five love languages, by Gary Chapman. The five languages are (1) Words of affirmation, (2) Quality time, (3) Receiving gifts, (4) Acts of service, (5) Physical touch. Knowing these five languages of love about the other significant person in your life, whether spouse or child or parent or friend, gives you a huge advantage in showing love to them.
An example: a woman I know rather well always identified love by Receiving Gifts. In a previous marriage, her husband figured this out, and always bought expensive jewelry for her after they had a fight. She felt loved again, and quickly made up. In her current marriage, her husband never did that because he never identified love with Receiving Gifts. His notion of love was Physical Touch. So they had real trouble making up after fights…. until he read the book and figured it out.
Ian: What are you passionate about these days? Dancing. I’m a dancing fool. When I was in college, I went to a ballroom dancehall on a Saturday night. The Wonderland was what it was called. I looked around and noticed that the women loved to dance, and were good at it, while the men were okay but not as fluid and graceful as the women. I decided to learn to dance, so I bought a book and taught myself from the book. Holding a pillow in my arms, I turned on the radio and shimmied around in the kitchen following the footsteps in the book.
It worked! When I returned to The Wonderland, I could do the swing and the waltz and a few other dances. The gals loved it, and I soon had dates. Dancing actually changed my whole social life, as I had been backward in relating to girls. Not any more…..now these dancers wanted to relate to me. After ears of taking classes, and even teaching dance classes, I’ve learned that nearly all women love to dance, even those who have trouble keeping the beat. But men…. only a few love it. The others are overly sensitive, worried that people would judge them if they missed a step or forgot a dance pattern.
Guys, if you only knew that dancing is the way to a woman’s heart! Take lessons if you don’t know how to dance. If you do know, take your wife or lover out next weekend for an hour of dancing.
Ian: Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick? In the book Weed and Water, Ethan is a good-looking teenager, well-adjusted, and a star athlete in basketball and football. But his attitude takes a downturn when he contacts herpes from a cheerleader named Rachel. When he is blackballed by seniors in the football team, who hear about this, Ethan is crushed. He turns to drugs. Then the struggle is on. Angelina, a beautiful single mom, tries everything to save her son. But he is by turns resistant one day and charming the next. Everyone knows the story…..a good kid goes wrong. His self-esteem is too often in the dumpster, and nobody seems to know how to help him.
Ethan’s life is pushed and pulled by forces for good and bad. It’s every teenager’s story. Confronted by options, the smallest upset can propel a boy to make the wrong choice and step from the garden into the swamp. Plenty of advice arrives from parents and the church on the one hand, and enticements from dubious peers on the other. When Ethan is sane, he can make good choices. But when he’s embroiled by past mistakes, and desperate for emotional escape, he can plunge into darkness. And yes, God makes an appearance in the life of this boy, several times in fact, but the end result is never guaranteed.
This story is a metaphor for the eternal struggle for the heart and soul of men and women everywhere, and the choices they make toward good or evil. The book Weed and Water is also a goldmine for learning more about the warring emotional forces that act on a son or daughter in high-school.
Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!