Tag Archives: Nature

Mother’s Day Hike | Ryerson’s Woods

by Melanie and Jim

After our early morning breakfast, we drove across town to Ryerson’s Woods. It was acquired by Iowa City in 1985. The park has about 50 acres and includes less than a mile of trails. Last time we visited was in mosquito season. We got a short distance into the trees and ran back to the car with several bites each. This time there were no mosquitoes.

We met two men and their dogs who were on the way out. The men were chatty. One dog reminded us of the Good Dog, Carl. The children’s book series about Carl is wonderful. We saw only two other people from afar.

There is a bit of up and down in the park, but the trail is well maintained with mulch under foot. Clean-up of fallen trees needs to be done in a few places, but the path was only blocked in one spot, and we climbed over easily.

As the park name implies, it is a wooded site. The ground vegetation struggles in many places to capture sunlight. Even so, it is lush and dense with green, as well as with wildflowers.

We saw a lot of Jack-in-the-pulpit Arisaema triphyllum plants in many different sizes. Most were about a foot tall. There were a few two feet tall and shaded a red color.

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Praying Mantis | Babies Hatch

A spirea bush in front of the house had two praying mantis egg cases attached to twigs. We first noticed them last fall. Each warm day this spring we checked to see if the young were hatching. It finally happened. They were about 1 cm (<1/2 in) long. They sat for a while to dry and firm up their exoskeleton.

Soon after that they scurried along the twigs and leaves for cover. This one stopped long enough to look back at us before it disappeared. More about the mantis in an earlier post when one of last year’s brood looked into our front window.

Backyard | Raccoon Vandals

We have a bird feeder hanging in the back several feet from any trees. It weighs several pounds due to batteries and a motor that spins the perch if squirrels get on it. It is hung from a rope about 3 meters above the ground by a sturdy carabiner clip.

This morning the feeder was lying on the ground. This is the second time it has happened. The only way to unhook it is to grip the spring clip on the carabiner and lift the feeder support wire out of it. You need hands with a strong grip to do that. We suspect raccoons are the culprit.

“Acorns Were Good Until Bread Was Found”

by Jim and Melanie

An English proverb attributed to Francis Bacon, we didn’t expect to see this example. Jim baked Irish soda bread a few days ago. We had a soup party over the weekend since then. You know, it was super bowl weekend. Friends brought delicious bread and biscuits. Jim’s soda bread sat forlornly on the counter getting hard and sullen from lack of attention. Today was the final straw. It proved dry and inedible.

Jim tossed it out the window toward bird feeders to see what would happen. There it sat for an hour as we worked quietly on other things. The silence was broken when Melanie yelled out “Look up in the tree! A squirrel has the bread.”

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