Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Campers 

It is raining hard today. Water streams down my driveway, puddling at it's base. Over in campustown passing cars raise a wall of water that swamps their own windshields. My rain barrels had been getting low and I was glad to have to pick my way carefully along the tilting sidewalk pavement in my venerable neighborhood to avoid dousing my socks coming home this evening.

On the bus I had been thinking about the partially used can of Campdry in my basement - wondering if the fellows who live in the picture you see here had used some for their tents. There is a small community here along an inviting woodland path, each dwelling not quite out of sight of the other.

This is where a homeless man was murdered last year. A resident tells me another was stabbed last week. The police have a shoe print, he said, and some blood.

My guide moved here last February. February, for those of you who have never spent a winter in Iowa, is deadly. Utilities here are not allowed to cut off service in February. You have to wonder how a company can get away with foreclosure in that deadliest of all months; who could make the decision; who could enforce it.

Maybe my partly used can of Campdry would run out before they could weatherproof their tents. It would be no good to them now at any rate, because it's raining. You can't use Campdry in the rain.

I change into dry pants and socks and sit in front of my TV, warm and dry, thankful that my rainbarrels are filling; stroking my cat. I think about men who live in tents, imagine they must be uncomfortable, realize that I can't be completely comfortable either...`


Thursday, May 07, 2009

I saved a life today 

I was in the bowels of my basement this afternoon, sorting through a collection of nails and screws when I noticed a bumblebee crawling on the floor. A dusty gob of detritus-laden spiderweb trailed behind him, impeding his progress. It wasn't hard to entice him to crawl onto a scrap of rag and take him outside, where he readily crawled onto a dandelion bloom. The trailing web stuck to and pulled at his wing. There was a long white hair attached to it somehow that wound around to one of his legs, binding it, as well.

He was still hanging to the blossom when I returned with a pair of scissors, pulled on the hair and cut him free.

By the time the camera arrived he had dropped off the dandelion and was drinking from that other beautiful and equally reviled little spring beauty called Creeping Charlie. As I fiddled with the settings, he crawled from one blossom to another, began to buzz, and flew off, leaving me with this oneric image.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The American Toad - Bufo americanus 

Last Thursday Reiman Gardens opened it's Dinosaur exhibit. While taking pictures I heard the trilling of Bufo americanus. It's a beautiful song. In my neighborhood I am lucky to hear one or two. Here it was a chorus.

Click on the picture and you'll see the full image. Note the pouch under his chin. The little guy is singing his heart out.

You can find a close up of this elegant black fellow on the Clemson University site:


The Joy of Spring 

One of the joys of spring in Iowa is the sight of our native milkweed seeds emerging from the pod that protected them
all winter.

The wind will catch these shining silken threads soon and lift them up into the sky where they will carry their seeds away, coming to rest, hopefully,
in a welcoming place,
nourished by a gardener who cherishes
the old fashioned lavender blooms
and the monarchs who will
feed and breed beneath them.

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