Coming back to the U.S. on July 1st was an unplanned stroke of genius! By the time I got over jetlag, I was able to enjoy fully my favorite holiday, the Fourth of July. It's not so much that I'm patriotic; I just LOVE fireworks!
This year my family elected to celebrate the Fourth of July at our cabin in southeast Iowa. I prefer small fireworks displays to the ones in large cities because my love of fireworks is directly proportionate to my dislike of crowds. I also hate the broadcast of Sousa marches that coincide with the fireworks display. I find it much more enjoyable to hang out on the bridge in Keosauqua and watch fireworks explode over the Des Moines River. The night watchman knows he can't control the number of illegal fireworks that are brought into Iowa from Missouri, so he simply walks through the crowd making sure no one gets hurt.
The rest of the weekend we spent cleaning up from the floods that ravaged SE Iowa this spring. We lost half of our garden to flood waters and three trees to high winds. We grilled out (i.e. barbecued) like 95% of the American population on Fourth of July weekend. We also did a frog survey.
There are several common species of frogs in SE Iowa (spring peepers, chorus frogs, cricket frogs, tree frogs, green frogs, bull frogs, leopard frogs, American toads... you can check out their songs here) and my parents participate in a program to count the number of frogs of each individual species. They report these numbers to the Department of Natural Resources for the state of Iowa. So as the sun set and the fireflies were just coming out, we climbed into the Subaru and made our frog loop. As we drove through the Iowa countryside, we listened to a CD of frog songs. According to the rules, we have to stop at several different habitats (flowing water, stagnant water, ephemeral ponds), where we measure the air and water temperature. Then we spend 5-10 minutes listening for the different frog species. It takes a couple of hours to do the loop, and we fall into bed around midnight. Never a dull moment in SE Iowa!
KNEE HIGH BY THE FOURTH OF JULY
Iowa is the Corn State, and you know it's going to be a good year if the corn is "knee high by the Fourth of July." Case in point: