I was asked by one of the newspaper editors to submit my news column early for this week. I thought to myself, early? I barely seem to make the regular deadline lately. How am I going to get it in early? Well, this editor religiously puts my column in every week. I had to make the effort to show my appreciation, right?
So, I sat down and racked my brain for a column topic. Nothing. I squeezed my eyes tightly closed. Then I squeezed even harder. Still nothing. I thought and I thought and I thought until my thinker was sore. All I had to show for that was a sore thinker.
"Come on," I said to myself. "This can't be that hard." There are 800,000 kinds of insects in the world. At least 20,000 fish species. Over 9,000 species of birds and more than 6,000 different reptiles. At last count there were more than 4,000 different mammals followed closely in numbers by amphibians. I haven't written about all of them.
So, I Googled Iowa Wildlife. Then I clicked on the images tab.
I truly was amazed at the images that appeared. There were baby rabbits, foxes, bats, owls, robins and squirrels. There were wood ducks, turkey vultures, bald eagles and bluebirds. There were images of fur trappers with their daily or seasonal catches. Fisherpeople proudly holding up their catches and many, many pictures of hunters with their trophy bucks.
There were snakes and crayfish, pheasants and fawns. I saw butterflies and badgers, bobcats and bison. There were yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds. There were albino mink and albino deer. Many, many pictures of snapping turtles and more than a few of bullfrogs.
As I scrolled on down, I saw raccoons, egrets, swans and geese. Also river otters and wild turkeys, as well as, pelicans and opossums.
As I paused to ponder these, I realized that I have written about most of those animals and subjects since we reinstated the columns in 2006. Seven years at roughly 50 articles a year makes for quite a few topics. But I'm glad to report that the Google trip did yield some inspiration for future articles.
More so, however, it deepened my appreciation for what we have to enjoy right here in Iowa. Right here in our own backyards there are people who plan their vacations looking forward all year to maybe a one or two week adventure, getting away from the concrete pavement and tall buildings they call home. To be able to see what we see in our own backyards every morning and evening, I love Iowa!