Notes from 43.061779N 96.458895W, 1,336 ft. ASL

by Leland Searles

South and north Coyote groups singing alternately. The north group sounds like laughing foxes. A Barred Owl some nights.

Soybean field over the fence, planted on the contour with contour embankments

Beans harvested one afternoon through evening darkness

Finally, a non-wildfire sunset as the western fires die down

The chill of night, asleep in a cocoon of insulated clothes and blankets

The tart taste of ripe groundcherries, the inherent and unrealized productivity of the land

The failing market for aronia berries

The distant hum of combines in other bean fields, then corn

Upright corn in an area untouched by the derecho storm; news of good yields despite the drought

The sole occupant of the campground in a Coleman popup camper during the week

A lunar halo through altocumulus, disappearing as the sky clears

Eight feet of loess mantling whatever ancient glacial material lies below

Plentiful bur oaks on the ravine slopes, bluff, and bottoms of the Big Sioux River

Red-orange autumn equinox sunrise through wildfire smoke

Wondering about the possible allopathic effect of Wood Nettles because of their dense stands

Hydric soil colors in clay at seven feet down: oxidized, orange iron and pastel yellow, reduced clay

New wetlands as wealth

Dark blue-green clay in the stream bed, a “gley” color from permanent saturation

The fine latticework of reed canarygrass roots in a broken tile

Nightcrawlers already three feet deep despite a warm autumn

Drought, windstorms, sun- and wind-tanned faces, dust eddies, bean leaves filling a ditch

A late Familiar Bluet, a late Monarch, an Autumn Meadowhawk

Plentiful bald eagles, functioning stream ecology, lady beetles, hover flies, pollinators, earthworms, centipedes, soil bacteria and fungi as wealth

An American Kestrel pursuing one Killdeer of a flock, without success

A Peregrine Falcon flying past in a strong breeze

Sightings of rare animals and plants as wealth

Two Redtails drafting on a thermal

A couple of Western Meadowlarks, jumped from the weedy field

Firedot lichen growth on wooden posts

A straightened headwater stream rechanneled to its 1950s location

Achy muscles and contentment at twilight as wealth

Humans beginning to regard the work of the natural world,and flowing water as its own best architect of the landscape

Clean, free-running water as wealth

Common lichens on the bark of a row of Honeylocust: Gold Dust Lichen, a couple others; the life in the upper limbs of mature bur oaks

Effects of livestock air pollution on lichen diversity

Mussel populations and species in the Big Sioux; unfortunately, the sandbar is on the other side, in Nebraska, unreachable without trespassing.

Milkweed pods splitting open and letting their plumed brown seeds into the gusts

Three to four feet of erosion at the fence line in a waterway, a foot of topsoil lost on the uplands, three to four feet of topsoil over wet blue clay along the stream

Soil, not cash or credit or bank paper, as wealth

Rusted barbed wire, bent and rusted steel fenceposts, boundaries across natural watersheds and plant communities

The Jeffersonian grid system, with its farm-to-market roads of yellow limestone

Four semi loads of cattle from the yard across the road this spring, six more this autumn

Manure hauling, load after load, day after day, the land’s capacity for so much

A day in the sun and wind as wealth

The nature of wealth

Oak Grove Park and Marshalltown, Iowa
September and October 2020