Friday, March 15, 2013

Midwest Nature Quote of the Week

The creature called the turkey buzzard hovers over the land like a fallen angel. A great carrion bird with a naked, raddled head and plumage like an old shroud, watching for death with his amazing eyes.

Other birds and animals do not fear him, for unlike his raptor cousins he does not bring death; he only attends it. Somewhere along the antediluvian track he specialized, losing his raptorial talons and the killing power of his feet. When the buzzard lost his ability to kill and embraced a postmortem cuisine, he became the most despised of birds.

He is certainly the ugliest. Not just homely, but repugnant in an epic, classic way. He’s the Ugly Champ of America, hands down. His feathers are a rusty black edged with brown and his only color is in the naked atrocity of a head.

John Madson, Stories from Under the Sky.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

This day in Iowa history

March 13, 1961

The Iowa General Assembly designated the oak as the state tree.

From The Iowa Nature Calendar by Jean C. Prior and James Sandrock, illustrated by Claudia McGehee.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Excerpt from Esther's Town

Scandinavian immigrants found Emmet winters more severe, the snow deeper, the wind more violent, the thunder and lightning more terrifying, the dew wetter, and the countryside more desolate than their native lands. They thought their old-world clothing of wool much warmer than American-made garments, largely of cotton. Moreover, they choked easily on a strange language. The name of the Des Moines River, close to their homes, was often pronounced by the newcomers from Scandinavia as "DisMines" River. Such words as "slough," "Sioux," and "Dubuque" were also twisters. My father often amused me when I was a boy by telling of the Norwegian who reported that on a trip across the state his wagon "got stuck in the slutch, halfway between SI-ox City and DUB-kwee."

Deemer Lee, Esther's Town.