Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Peru News and Dubuque Fun

The Sculpture that Began the Latest Series of Sculptures

This Sunday, May 25, the Lincoln Journal Star ran this much-appreciated article by Kendra Waltke on Roland Sherman and his sculptures the Sherman Memorial Area feature along the Trace Trail. I talked over the telephone with Kendra for quite some time about the sculptures and hope that her article will increase interest in the Memorial Area and the Trace Trail. The preceding sculpture of a woman's name, Sara, and not the sculpture of a woman, according to Sherman family members, inspired Roland Sherman to create the series of sculptures Kendra's article addresses. For more information and links about the Trace Trail, just click here.

On Saturday, May 24, my wife and I drove to Mt. Vernon, IA, to pick up books and other "furnishings" from my daughter's dormitory room at Cornell College; classes there end on Wednesday, May 28. Anyway, on the way back, we visited the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, which features, among other things, the William Black, a river dredger captured in the following picture.

The William Black

For years on my drives through Dubuque on my way to and from Peru, I have given thought to swinging by the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in the Port of Dubuque by the river-- and surrounded by gambling establishments, just like, I suppose, in the "old days." The William Black in particular impressed me--I posted more images of the ship and a couple from inside the museum. The aquariums hold some impressively large Gar and Catfish.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Visit to Lodi Marsh

Lodi Marsh

On Saturday, May 17, I traveled to Lodi, WI, to visit a marsh there with my Botanist friend Beth Middleton. Beth works for the USGS at its National Wetlands Research Center in the heart of Cajun country, Lafayette, Louisiana.

Owing to a very late spring, the Marsh Marigolds pictured to the left--one of the many wetlands plants the marsh features--remained in beautiful bloom.

Lodi Marsh is owned by the DNR and became in 2002 a State Natural Area. In addition to the Skunk Cabbage--pictured on the right--that informs the area, the marsh also supports a number of threatened prairie moths I hope to get pictures of early in August.

Beth works to get this site included on the Ramsar List, marking the area as a wetland of international significance. You can at this site read a bit about the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, signed in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.

I posted photograhs from this area of prairie (Burr Oak) and wetland (Marsh Cat Tails) through which flows Spring Creek, whose cool, spring-fed waters support native Brown Trout.

I will return over the summer to this area and plan to add more photographs to the slide show and to land a trout or two.

My Botany friend Beth asked me to add the following photograph of the plentiful granite rocks scattered throughout the marsh area. She wrote me that "these are small glacial rocks in the stream created by the springs, which form the heart of the hydrology of these calcareous fens. Because this area was at the very edge of the glacier, and at the edge of the Driftless Area, the limestone bedrock is intact and visible on the bluffs. The small rounded granite rocks were deposited by a thin layer of glaciar covering the limestone bedrock."

Small Granite Rocks at Lodi Marsh

The rather unique geology of the area also affects in special ways the flora and the fauna. As Beth points out, " The Lodi Marsh State Natural Area (SNA) in Dane County, Wisconsin (USA) is reported to have a large number of unusual prairie moth species, which depend on the fen/dry prairie gradient. Unusual pollinators are found in these high quality habitats including the Silphium borer moth (Papaipema silphii; federally endangered species); Papaipema nelita; Papaipema rutila (Mayapple Borer Moth); Papaipema beeriana (Blazing Star Borer); Otto Skipper (Hesperia ottoe); Euxoa spp.; Richia grotei; and Newman’s brocade (Meropleon ambifuscum), following collections in the past years."

The previous Wisconsin DNR link adds further information in this regard. Lodi Marsh supports an extraordinary high moth diversity because, as Beth's preceding graphic undercores, of area's rare wet-fen-dry-prairie transition, the intact Oak Savanna (Burr Oak abound), and the fact that the moths use this entire gradient. And I hope later in the summer to get lucky and include some pictures of the moths, beginning in August. Click on the links for further information and some photographs of the species in question.

On May 27, I made a quick trip to Lodi Marsh and took more photographs, mostly of the f
lowers, for I experiment with a new macro camera lens. You can view these new shots on the link to the photography slide show.

I had planned some fishing, but Linda, my wife, and I took long walk instead on the trail and then slipped down to the marsh--tall grass and some tricky footing shorted the trip. We will wear boots next time.

I will return in a month.

The following flower appealed in particular to me.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Last Days of the Spring Term

Indigo Bunting

On May 1, Bill Snyder, Bill Newman, Paul Hinrichs and I enjoyed a glass of wine at Whiskey Run in Brownville--and on a very pleasant evening.

Newman and I drove to Rock Port in Missouri to check out the wind farm there. As this link indicates, Rock Port, Missouri, plans to become the first completely wind-powered town in the country.

Impressive to see and to hear the thirty or so towers with the rotating blades, especially after watching for over a year the towers loaded on trucks and wondering where they all ended up.

After a union meeting in Lincoln (State College Education Association) the following day, 2 May, I rushed back to Peru to gather notes and thoughts.

The union business certainly set the stage for the evening, for I traveled south to Falls City, to the beautiful library there to talk about John Ford, John Steinbeck, and The Grapes of Wrath.

Around fifty folks--I forgot to take a picture of the people who came for the discussion and the film--attended the event; I controlled myself and stopped The Grapes of Wrath only a few times to share information and an interesting anecdote now and again

I stand here with Merle Stalder, who graciously donated the Thomas Hart Benton lithographs that Twentieth-Century Fox commissioned for the film.

If you get a chance stop by the Falls City Library and Arts Center and view the lithographs and other featured items in the Stadler Gallery.

My presentation was part of the Kansas-Nebraska Chautauqua program: Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the Thirties.

Commencement went very well the next day. And after turning in grades and taking care of some end-of-the-term matters, I joined my colleague Dan Holtz and headed to a pond at which we like to fish.

Although the water remains cool and the fish sluggish, we managed to pull in a few Large-mouthed Bass and a couple Bluegill, an enjoyable way to conclude a very busy term.

And for the past week in particular, I have taken quite a few pictures of the birds in my back yard.
; this past week, many Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and Baltimore Orioles visited my feeders.

I take off in the morning, Wednesday, for Ripon, Wisconsin, my home away from Peru--hard to believe that I have made this commute for fifteen years. I look forward to adding some material and to continuing the blog next fall.

Kissing Northern Cardinals

Baltimore Oriole