My sister said let’s plan something exciting for my birthday. For some people that might mean a hot air balloon ride or a trip to the windy city, but I have a passion for green, and one of the first things that popped into my mind was visiting a location on my Life List: Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. If you have ever had their catalog, you’ve probably spent hours lusting over the vegetables and getting engrossed in the stories behind many of the heirloom seeds. I wanted to see “where the magic happens”!
The first photo shows some of the demonstration gardens that are located near the visitor center and huge gift shop. The second photo we accessed by driving back a ways into the property, where the real magic happens. I assume this is a production field that is obviously not very far along in the first week of June. We did not take time for the walking tour, which might have given us more information and a better idea of what really goes on, but my mission, besides just getting there, was to see what they use for trellising and to SHOP!
I got some nice comments a while back from Zanariah in Kuala Lumpur. She found me through my post about slough grass and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Last weekend I met my sister in northern Iowa and we got to visit one of the places Laura lived! I thought of you, Zanariah, and took these pictures for you!
Between On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura and her family lived in Burr Oak, Iowa. It was a rough time in the Ingalls family and Laura did not write about it in her books, but there is a little museum there now in the hotel building where the family worked. The above photo shows some twisted slough grass like they would have burned in the book, The Long Winter.
The small museum is located in what was the Masters Hotel. This is how it looks today.
There were a lot of photos of Laura and her family in the museum and the one hour tour was filled with great stories! Now I want to go back and read the books again and read even more about Laura’s life as an adult. Thanks you, Zanariah, for reminding me that these stories are loved the world over!
Today was the day! I feel like spring is about at its peak here in central Iowa, so I took out the Cannon and drove around town to capture the beauty.
Iowa State University has a beautiful campus and every year when the blue squill bloom it still takes my breath away. This year I finally got onto campus for some close ups of the patch between the Memorial Union and the Knoll.
This last February, Iowa State University had it’s third annual symposium on sustainability. I attended the student brainstorming session and got to see former ISU GSB vice president Chandra Peterson in action. Her energy and enthusiasm give me hope for the future!
A wonderfully diverse group of students came up with ideas for improving energy usage on campus, educating students and promoting sustainable student lifestyles, reuse of design materials by students, and continuing and improving our food system initiatives of large scale composting and use of locally grown foods.
I never cease to be amazed by the rich diversity found at this university in the middle of the American corn belt. We have a large population of students from China, India, Pakistan and Latin America. How do they wind up in Iowa, a state many US east-coasters can’t even accurately locate?! When I asked an administrator about this once, he replied that word of mouth gets many students here. We have a good university and Ames is a nice sized city of around 50,000. For ISU, these students will bring many of the ideas and world views that we need to create a sustainable future. It is also impressive that our African-American population seems to be growing at ISU. One book I am reading now speaks of the overdeveloped countries, like the U.S. Is it possible to go from overdeveloped, excessive energy use, over-consumption, new technology at any cost, and massive amounts of waste to something more sustainable? It will be to our advantage to have a diverse group of brainstormers in the conversation.
It’s cooling off now, highs in the 50’s and 60’s, but it still feels gorgeous and I like to go out in the late afternoon and catch some of the blazing setting sun rays. I guess I am storing them up for the days like the one below!
Stop! Take some time to feel the sun today, if you can!
The last few days I’ve been writing about my mini vacation to Pella, Iowa. This weekend is the big celebration of Pella Tulip Time. We chose to visit the weekend before the crowds arrive, and we missed out on the parade, everyone dressed in historic costume and wooden shoes, but it was nice just to have the tulips to ourselves too, without so many people around! Remember those posts I made in February, longing for spring and tulips? Well, my longings are well satisfied now!
Spring…fresh, not yet too hot, the strong have pushed through the darkness, upward, breaking through, settling for nothing less than sun, air, and life. We see the outer loveliness that encloses the hidden inner beauty and strength!
If you travel through the upper Midwest, you might see these signs of 21st century wind power.
But wind energy isn’t something new, as we were reminded when visiting the historic town of Pella, Iowa. In the early part of the 21st century, this town founded by Dutch settlers had their own windmill built to remind us of days gone by. According to the Pella Tulip Time website, the authentic working Dutch Mill was built partly in Holland and assembled in Pella by skilled Dutch craftsmen. The mill grinds wheat into flour using only wind power and is the tallest working windmill in the United States. It costs $8 to tour the working mill and the historic village, but I thought it was well worth the money!
All of the wood work inside the three story mill is amazing! This shows the chute where the wheat is poured down into the millstones to be ground.The mill stones are quite large!
I was totally enchanted and felt like I was on a sailboat of the prairie.
I had a little vacation today! Steven and I drove to Pella, Iowa to look at the tulips and check out this little town of Dutch origins. It must still be spring, because every day just seems more gorgeous than the last.