Category Archives: Nature

A Sand County Almanac

Over the years, this book by Aldo Leopold has been recommended by many as a good read. I was born and raised only 30 miles from his hometown. My farm life and closeness to nature were strong influences on how I saw the world. A month ago while browsing a used bookstore, I found this copy of his book and decided it was time to read it. I am so glad I did. Leopold’s reflections on the natural world and our place in it fit squarely with mine. If you have not yet read the book, I encourage you to do so.


New Fawn

I stepped out onto the front porch and was startled when this thing bleated at me not more than 2 feet away lying next to the lavender flowers. It looked at me seeming to wonder ‘Are you my mother?” Momma deer was nowhere to be seen. It might have sniffed my hand if I’d offered. But, I didn’t want to startle it. Deposits of new fawn near our house have happened several times over the years.

Hiking With 1000 White Pelicans

We set out early from Solon IA on the North Shore Trail along Lake MacBride. We walked about 2 miles along the 5 mile trail before returning to our car. There were many yellow wildflower varieties in bloom as well as Canadian Thistle. Some trees were damaged by the August 10 derecho that roared through this part of Iowa. But the trail had been cleared of debris. An enormous pile of tree limbs and trunks was piled in the parking lot that had been removed from town. It is slowly being reduced to mulch.

Here are a few sights along the way. Click to enlarge.

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Left Turn Only

We returned from a quick trip to the grocery and got into the left turn lane near home. This sign caught our attention. Melanie asked me to turn around and go back so she could take a picture. Bagworm cases were attached around the edges. We hadn’t noticed that before on previous trips. No other signs had them.

The caterpillar larvae of the Psychidae construct cases out of silk and environmental materials such as sand, soil, lichen, or plant materials. These cases are attached to rocks, trees or fences while resting or during their pupa stage, but are otherwise mobile…Wikipedia

Iowa Raptor Project

Nice weather prompted us to get outside. We went to the Iowa Raptor Project site for Family Day. Several birds are there that were injured, recovered, but cannot be released back to the wild. There is a large Bald Eagle, owls, hawks, gyrfalcons, and small kestrels. Not all the residents are native to Iowa. Kids and parents enjoyed activities designed to teach awareness and conservation about the world of nature around them. Melanie couldn’t resist spreading her wings.

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Bald Eagles On The Iowa River

It was a beautiful sunny day this February 2nd. The temperature climbed into the mid-50s. We drove to a small dam site along the Iowa River to watch the Bald Eagles. At this time of year, the river is usually frozen over except below the small dams. There the eagles gather to fish or just hang out in the trees. Not many were fishing today. Most were soaring on the winds.

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Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

The Bur Oak Land Trust executive director Jason Taylor guided our group through their managed property Turkey Creek. Near Coralville Reservoir, the property is their largest holding with two restored prairies and a creekside portion. Trails allow visitors to hike around the property. Right after we started our hike, a flock of White Pelicans flew over. It was a good omen.

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Harvest Moon | Shine On Us

A lot of fuss was been made of the Harvest Moon on Friday the 13th. Our Chinese friends noted its significance for them and their love of Moon Cakes. On our way home last night from a dinner party with our friends, we enjoyed views of the full moon high in the southeast sky.

Awake before sunrise on the 14th, I looked for the Moon before it set in the west and was rewarded for my effort with these views. The most-zoomed was at 6:34 am.

A few minutes later sunrise approached. I turned to the east and was rewarded with this golden sky. That radio tower is 13 miles away. Good luck and blessings for all. Peace.

Sunflowers and Zinnia

by Jim and Melanie

Much of Iowa holds “the best of both worlds.” If you live in a rural area, you might not be very far from a bustling town. If you live in town, you probably have farm fields within a dozen miles of your home. Just north of us is a small farm actually within its city limits. On the farm grows corn, but it’s best known for the large pumpkin patch, open for weeks in the fall for happy families to visit. The pumpkins that families purchase make grinning, gap-toothed Halloween decorations and harvest decor that lasts for months.

Besides the pumpkins, the farm owners have developed another field growing sunflowers. Recently on a sunny morning, we stopped by to enjoy the brilliant orangey-yellow petals, held aloft on sturdy stems.

This one reminded Melanie of a person tapping her face with her fingers.

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