Remnant Prairies: Nature’s Last Stand
As I’ve stated many times, our house in Asbury has a property that slopes down to a city-owned flood plain. There will never be houses down in that valley because water flows through it—at least during normal years of average rain. The fact there is a flood plain and valley behind our house was a key reason we bought it. I’ve planted, at my own expense, many shrubs, and flowers on this city property to both enhance the area and attract wildlife. In 20 years I’ve been successful, and the area is a gentle respite to the hectic life above the plain.
In similar fashion there are other areas in Dubuque that offer calm respites from the noise of the city. The Bee Branch Project is an excellent example of creating an inviting area to walk or bike through and one can see native plants taking hold in several areas of the extensive project. One of those areas is on 32nd Street near Central, where you’ll find native plants abounding and surrounding a retention area for storm water run-off. There are paved walks and benches so visitors can linger and watch the wildlife that has taken up residency in the area.
Another area that amazed me on a recent visit is a remnant prairie situated right in the city of Dubuque. Unlike the prairie associated with the Mines of Spain or E.B. Lyons, this remnant of a prairie that was present 5,000 years ago is situated right in the middle of developed land. When I visited, I looked through a window of time back to what the settlers who came to the Dubuqueland area walked through as they searched for areas upon which to build homes and future businesses. Herein lies our problem.
This small bit of untouched prairie could be in jeopardy because pieces of it are privately owned and those owners could build houses on it—especially since the view is spectacular. Unlike my flood plain area, this remnant prairie is prime land for housing and thus I remain vague about its exact location. On this patch of prairie are rare plants like the Prairie Shooting Star along with Leadplant and a variety of short native grasses. Ironically, what keeps this prairie “alive” are the frequent fires that occur because of teens smoking or small bonfires that get out of control and inadvertently setting the prairie afire. Sadly, there are also several invasive plants like the Buckthorn and efforts to keep it in check by the Iowa Conservancy group’s work with removal of the shrubs are having some success.
On the other hand, a prairie worth a visit is the 23-acre Pohlman Prairie Preserve located adjacent to Highway 3 & 52 just south of Durango. Once you park near the highway it’s a bit of a steep trail that leads up to a limestone bluff. Switchbacks make the climb manageable and worth the effort. This is a “goat prairie” because it was reachable only by grazing animals and not plows—thus it remains. This prairie blooms throughout the summer and in the fall comes the beautiful lavender colored Cylindrical Blazing Stars.
We must appreciate these prairie lands and other pockets of natural beauty in our area. Development need not encroach upon the remnants of prairies simply because the view is beautiful. I urge owners of these bits of land to consider giving (or selling at a reasonable amount) the land to the Conservancy for protection. Once these lands are developed, they’re gone forever. It is up to all of us to care about the land and to realize we are inextricably connected to our earth and that we must make every effort to maintain the delicate balance we have with the web of life of which we are a part.
Fostering a Pet vs. Adopting
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: What is the difference between pet adoption and fostering? — Jess in Knoxville
DEAR JESS: An adopted pet is going to his or her forever home, a successful story every animal shelter wants to see replay again and again. But many pets aren’t quite ready to be adopted. They may be too young. They may be recovering from abuse and injuries. They may need to be observed to figure out what home environment is best for them.
Sometimes, a shelter runs out of space. And some rescue organizations don’t have shelter facilities at all. In all these circumstances, this is where foster families come into play.
A foster is a temporary arrangement, either for a predetermined amount of time or until a pet is adopted. Rather than being stuck in a chilly kennel with little interaction, a foster pet stays in a warm, loving home — an arrangement that vastly reduces their stress and helps them heal.
Some pets are never ready for adoption and remain a foster for the rest of their life. Others are adopted by the foster family if approved by the rescue organization.
Caring for a foster pet takes dedication, and it helps to have experience caring for pets. If you’re interested in being a foster parent to a pet, check with the local shelter or rescue group. They will have an application for you to fill out, and then will evaluate you and your living space to determine if you are a good fit for the foster program and which pets would do best in your care.
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This rare double lollipop basket was made in the early 20th century. It is 4 1/2 inches high, 9 inches long and
8 1/4 inches wide with a swing handle.
Nantucket baskets have been popular purses and collectibles since the 1940s. The first baskets on Nantucket Island were made by the Wampanoag Indians, but they were not like the later Nantucket baskets.
The Nantucket Lightship Station was at Nantucket in 1854 and had a crew of six. A lightship is a substitute for a lighthouse in waters that can’t hold a lighthouse because of the depth or the rough water. The crew worked 30 days at a time with little to do. So, some started making baskets. The first basket was made by Capt. Charles Ray. The wooden parts were made on land, carried to the ships and used to make the woven baskets.
The government made them stop basket making while on duty in 1900, but baskets were still made on the island. Purses were made by 1900, and in the 1940s, friendship baskets were made. New ones today sell for $500 to thousands of dollars. One very rare type is the lollipop basket. The top rim has round pieces that look like little lollipops. They have had auction estimates at $40,000 to $60,000. They are very difficult to make.
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I almost bought a strange piece of gold jewelry that had a picture of an eye and no other decoration in the frame. The antique 18th-century pin was gold with a border of pearls and blue enamel, and it was in an auction estimated at over $2,000. Why just an eye?
This type of pin is known as a “Lover’s Eyes.” They were exchanged by lovers and for other types of remembrance, including those lovers who had died. According to legend, it started in 1784 when the Prince of Wales fell in love at first sight with Maria Fitzherbert, a twice widowed commoner. The prince needed permission from his father to wed, so he proposed to Maria in a letter that mentioned he was sending an eye. It was a miniature of his eye painted by a famous miniaturist. She accepted the proposal. They were secretly married, and Maria later sent the prince an eye miniature for his birthday. It became a trend and similar eye jewelry was made into the 19th century.
The pin was worn in a secret, unseen place, like under a coat lapel. The pins were always miniatures in watercolor on ivory, vellum or gouaches. They were covered with glass. A few were made as pendants or rings. One expert says less than 1,000 still exist. Watch out for fakes made years ago.
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Bride’s basket, satin glass, blue, silver plate, Aurora, 10 inches, $80.
Map, England, title cartouche, shield, acanthus, multicolor, Robert Morden, 1695, 14 1/2 x 16 3/4
Cash register, National, model 313, brass, drawer, scrolls, banners, c. 1920, 17 inches, $360.
Cane, silver, monkeys, climbing, tree branch, wood, 35 x 4 inches, $625.
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TIP: Don’t set a hot glass dish on a wet granite countertop. The sudden temperature change might crack the glass.
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Grilled Tri-Tip Beef
Whole Tri-Tip, about 2 pounds
3 Tbsp Cremer’s Rub Me Tender Seasoning
1. Sprinkle meat with rub and massage lightly alll over. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour or as long as overnight. Remove from refrigerator an hour before cooking.
2. Prepare charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Place roast on grill and sear one side well, 6 to 8 minutes, checking for flare-ups. Turn the roast and sear the other for about the same time. Then lower gas to medium-high or move the meat to a cooler part of the charcoal grill.
3. Turn meat again and cook another 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and cook again. A 2-pound roast will require about 20 to 25 minutes total cooking time. The roast is ready when an instant-read thermometer reaches 130 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the meat.
4. Rest roast on a cutting board 10 to 20 minutes. Slice against the grain. The roast is shaped like a boomerang, so either cut it in half at the center of the angle, or slice against the grain on one side, turn the roast and slice against the grain on the other side.