Archive for July, 2010

Ol' Trapper

Sticklebacks! It’s been hot!! And very rainy, too. A person would think, if they had never been here in the winter, that the Countryside Round were a part of the tropics instead of northeast Iowa! And still I get the urge to wander around outside?

I could have stayed in the shade offered by the inside of my house, complete with air conditioning, and enjoyed the simple, delicious comfort that comes from kicking your feet up and watching a baseball game while taste-testing the day’s freshly baked zuchinni bread (and chocolate zuchinni bread!). But I feel deep down, that when conditions seem to be more than what you prefer, you should test yourself against them a bit, just to see where your limits seem to be set lately.

I love the blues and greens of a marsh.

And so, with Trapper’s company, I did. I am not a fan of temperatures above 90 degrees, but by the time I had finished supper and prepared us to go, the temperature had dropped to 88, and there was a steady breeze to offset the oppressive humidity. Off we went to visit the marsh where I shoot most of my ducks. I like to visit the marsh a couple of times each summer, just to get a feel what it’s like during the times I’m not normally using it.

June berries? More study needed on my part.

A sad reminder overwhelms me as I walk the trails here. The times seem farther between and fewer that I make trips specifically into the wilder edges to collect foodstuffs that are overlooked by most people. Everywhere I look, plants stand out that are known as edible. I’ll admit that I have not tried them all, but there is a list in my head that I run through every time I’m out, and many were on display during my short walk. But, alas, my time available is short, and I wish to spend this time with my mind trying to absorb all it can of the sights, sounds, and smells.

And there was a smell, let me tell you, on the trail through a piece of low-lying woods we walked through. Something smelled dead, and sure enough I found it’s source as I was dodging the puddles on the path. The woods must have been under water for quite some time. Earthworms, large and small, decomposing into the warm, wet earth lent their perfume to the still air under the trees. Some of you may know the odor of rotting worms from the days you used to spend fishing with them, and then forgetting and leaving them somewhere inconvenient. This was how the woods smelled. I hope it’s long gone before squirrel season gets here, as I harvest some from here every year.

This one has some meat on it. Hopefully it, or one like it, will be around yet this fall.

But there is a lot of life still happening! Trapper and I jumped several wood ducks and mallards from the cattails, and heard wood ducks squealing away on the creeks meandering through the timber. We also moved off some Canada geese from the trail. They didn’t seem too worried about us, but still kept a distance far enough away that the photos I took did not turn out well. The same applies for the ducks. It is hard to sneak up them when I’m letting Trapper play more than hunt. And the insects are doing EXTREMELY¬† well right now. Our ears and eyes were constantly swarmed around. Funny to think that they won’t be around this coming Long Night Moon (December) when I’m stalking the woods for a whitetail.

If this heat keeps up, I will have to make a trip to a cold, spring fed creek near me to wade and get cool, and perhaps spin for a few of the trout that swim in it. Well, I was planning on doing that soon anyhow, as my freezer is getting low on it’s supply of fish. Catfish, bass, and walleye fillets (bless the generosity of my brother) are thawing as I write this, so replenishment is on the order. Hopefully, I’ll have something of that to share with you soon.

Until then – Peace, Cheers!! and enjoy a few more photos I took during our walk.

Your friend –


A sign of autumn approaching? This maple is standing in water, which may have something to do with it's turning color sooner.

Young sumacs! Berries to make sumac-ade and trap dye.

The hickory nuts are swelling!

Wild grapes, still green.

I sent Trapper into the water to cool off, but he was trying to lap up scent! Atta boy!

P.S. – And after getting home and washing up, I was able to enjoy some of that chocolate zuchinni bread! Mmmmm.


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Helping Earth Recover

Our friend John has been letting us in on how he wishes to reduce the damage he is causing to the Earth by doing some of the things he does in a less harmful way. A noble cause each of us should be laboring at. Well, my friends, he must have made a convincing case, as it has put in the mind of this reader that I should work harder to do the same. One thing I have done, since last September, is share rides in a mechanical pony (car) to work. Keeps me from using 320 miles worth of fuel the weeks I don’t drive. That makes me feel pretty good. Other things I do are shown in the images accompanying this correspondence.

I should put far more time and energy into my gardening ventures. Today's little haul.

But – looking at how I go about living, there are TONS of things that could be improved, and the one thing I should tackle (more like wrestle, most likely) concerns liquid refreshments. I am nearly addicted to soda/pop and we all know there is no value in it. And it must take a ton of fuel to produce and distribute the junk, not to mention the bottles they come in – another major problem. And while I’m at it, how about coffee and tea? Those products must travel many, many miles to reach northeast Iowa from where they are grown.

But friends, do not ask this of me. “What about beer and wine?” For now this DOES NOT include these! Really! You would be asking too much, and anyway, one thing at a time!! Brewing and vinting are at the top of my list bucket list, though. And there are a few breweries and wineries not too far from me who make beers and wines that are very palatable. I need to switch to them exclusively!

I should work on my little backyard rabbitry, too. I have 6 of them just about ready for harvest.

A nice thing about living in these days is that there is already much history behind us, and there are things we can learn from it, and from many sources. Water was given to us originally to slake our thirst, and there are all sorts of native plants that can be used as substitutes for tea and coffee. And beer and wine!! Just looking through a couple of field guides reveals this information to us, not to mention the internet.

THIS is what I am going to work on first. Local beverages. It won’t be simple, but if I keep in mind the consequences for the generations to come, I should be pleased to know that I am helping Earth recover.

What about you?

Peace! – Slainte! – Tight lines! – Happy hunting! – And stray from the well-worn path now and then!


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You can click this to enlarge it. Hope the writing is legible enough.

I made a small exploration in the Countryside Round this past Sunday afternoon, which served two purposes really. One, to provide inexpensive yet thoroughly engaging entertainment (that being the feeling you get when you discover new-to-you things), and the second, to provide in the future another chance at some more involved recreation. That future recreation being a day or two spent outdoors during the coming Hunting Moon (September), when squirrels will be legally hunt-able, the crawdads will be large enough to fill a nice portion of my plate after being boiled and dipped in melted butter, and if I time it right, maybe a shot at a duck or two during the early season for them.

Home to many things. Hopefully a home for me for a couple of days this coming Hunting Moon.

I may have found a spot that can do all that, if given some patience. It is at an intersection of three environmental features. An old trail that is no longer maintained dead-ends at a point where a river meets the side of a hill. Where the river and the hill meet is a fairly nice hole that may hold a smallmouth bass or two in the fall. Just upstream the water is smoother and seems slower, where a wood duck may try to take refuge. At the spot marked “1” on the map are two shallow riffles and rock bars whose rocks hold crayfish, and the river can be crossed here fairly easy late in the year, I’m sure. And northeast up the hill, a maple and hackberry tree dominated hillside. But a look up into the canopy revealed oak and walnut branches, which led me to the trees and some mast laying on the forest floor. This area looked good enough even if I had not seen two fox squirrels hopping up the hill away from me! I hope they multiplied well this spring. If anything, the scenery is going to be fantastic!

Here are more photos I took during this short outing. I hope you enjoy them.

Horsemint (Bee Balm)

The riffles.

Under the hillside canopy.

The overgrown trail, with Queen Anne's Lace, Yarrow, Pale Coneflower, and Bee Balm.

Pale Coneflower

Hummingbird. I almost got a photo of it as it was sipping nectar, but a gnat flew under my glasses and then under an eyelid! Damn!

Strange name for this butterfly. This species is called Question Mark.

So until the next time I have an explore in the Countryside Round – Slainte! – Tight lines! – Bring a towel and extra socks! – And I hope your scouting pays off this fall.

Peace – Casey

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Shedding Skin. Pace.

Rainbow Trout

Yep. I may be hopeless. It hasn’t been a week and already I want to jump back into the writing game and then, worst of all, I want to share it. This isn’t such a bad thing, I suppose, but I WILL NOT get caught up in the pace I was trying to run when I was Wandering Owl. The guy who was trying to accomplish things that are far beyond his reach. Back to being me – Casey. The simpleton who has no desire to sell himself to the masses and needs to spend more time walking paths, discovering mushrooms, watching kit beavers and muskrats swim down slow moving streams, stand in awe of the patterns a flock of ducks create while flying, and spending time behind his fishing pole. That is quite enough without writing about it, but those things are art and go hand-in-hand, do they not?

Barn Swallow chicks

I do quite a bit of observing nature, and I wonder if I had been caught up in it’s frantic pace just through that observation. In the countryside around me, spring and early summer are unbelievably hectic, and all with a real purpose compared to what we modern humans consider “real” purpose. The nesting, birthing, and growing happens so fast it seems a miracle. And all the mowing and weeding doesn’t help, not to mention one of modern man’s “real” purposes – work – has been insane. The order calendar is full and getting fuller by the day. Something I’ll have to cope with if I wish to enjoy those times spent with a plate of goat cheese and crackers, or a tin of smoked clams and crackers, along with a cold mug of ale, English preferably.

So the skin is shed – which to the observant has been awhile in coming, eh? –¬† and a new set of rules – which are really tied to an ancient set of rules – have taken effect. I am sure I’ll flesh those out for you, but not just yet. Pace, you see. That’s how I have to walk now.

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