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UR Here: Iowa City in August is a tale of two cities

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times: the first half of August in Iowa City. For half a month twice a year (also early January), tumbleweeds blow through our deserted streets. Those of us who are left enjoy Iowa City at its best. Those of us who are left suffer Iowa City at its worst.

Our town is at its worst at this time of year because the life has been sucked out of it. The university’s summer session is over, so even that relatively small summer population of intrepid students — the life-force of so much of Iowa City’s energy —
have headed for the beach, for home, for the mountains, wherever. Their professors have packed in their grade books and skipped town for the only two summer vacation weeks available to them. Even the university’s administrative offices are operating on skeleton crews before the onslaught of the fall semester begins. […]

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UR Here: The Japanese art of forest bathing invites you to soak up nature, hug a tree

On an unusually warm but cloudy March day about two weeks before the vernal equinox, I took a group hike in the woods at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha. Over an hour and half, we traversed about a quarter mile, a half at most. […]

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UR Here: Iowans need a lesson about home and community from Denmark

My maternal grandparents and other relatives immigrated to these American shores from Denmark. So I have to admit some sense of pride when the Danes show the rest of the world how to be a good society. Denmark is often atop the list of happiest countries. Their cultural concept of “hygge” — which means something […]

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UR Here: Examining the ‘loose parts’ of the natural world

Photo by Tom Dean

As I was driving home recently from the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge near Prairie City after finishing my first-ever nature photography workshop, my camera-obsessed eye could not help but see everything outside my car’s window as a picture. The principles of perspective, line, shape, pattern, texture, echo, visual flow and weight that I had […]

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