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The Pentacrest larch, embracing grief and taking action

I saw the fallen larch early on the morning of Sept. 10 as I walked from the bus to my office in Jessup Hall. My eyes widened and my spirits dropped as, from a distance, I saw the tree lying flat on the ground. I audibly said, “Oh no.” Before I went to work, and before the remains of the tree would be gathered and taken away by university personnel […]

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The joy of anticipation and aftermath

As someone easily overwhelmed by crowds and sensory overload (and more so as I age), I can find Iowa City’s wonderful summer festivals a challenge. I have many times enjoyed the tunes, charts and riffs flowing from the stages of the Iowa City Jazz Festival. I have often parked my camp chair on the Pedestrian Mall on Friday night […]

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Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada: The nostalgia-inducing song of the white-throated sparrow

The wonders of any month lie in the cycle of nature, in the continuum of life. I take special joy in October, thanks in large part to its specificities: beautifully colored leaves; crisp, cool air; lengthening shadows at early twilight. But I also embrace October’s place in the round of the year: the slowing of life after the rush of summer, the gathering bounty, preparing for winter’s rest. In recent years, I have paid greater attention to the sonic as well as visual landscape and its part in nature’s cycle. This autumn, I’m paying special attention to the white-throated sparrow. […]

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‘Unfamiliar eyes’ and the wonders of home

Since his days as an urban and regional planning professor at the University of Iowa, Iowa City mayor Jim Throgmorton has encouraged us to see our community through “unfamiliar eyes” in order to understand it better. I am fortunate that I do so every summer. For a good number of years, I have been privileged […]

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Falling in love with Iowa prairie

Over the past year and a half, I have grown to know and love the Iowa prairie as never before. I am in the final stages of a project with my co-author, Cindy Crosby, that involves writing about and photographing the tallgrass prairie. While I have always relished visits to a prairie, this project has […]

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UR Here: How fear divides us

The United States’ stark political divide has many of us shaking our heads in bewilderment and frustration. What is at the root of our seemingly insurmountable differences? Perhaps the wedge that divides us is as fundamental — and viscerally powerful — as fear. […]

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