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Wild Hikes

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Well, actually, it wasn’t all that wild but it definitely was interesting and fun.  The Portage County Park District is offering opportunities to scope out some of the features of the newly-funded (THANK YOU, VOTERS)county parks with knowledgeable  and  entertaining volunteer naturalists (or  one, at least, Thank you, Joe) to get a good look at just what’s out there.  There is a lot.

We got to see the fall flowers—goldenrod(several varieties), asters(lots of  colors and sizes), lobelia, to name a few.  We got to see lots of mushrooms, from decorative turkey tail shelf mushrooms to cute little red-topped poisonous ones (Amanita muscaria, red fly agaric, which contains the toxic, psychoactive alkaloid, muscimole which used to be left out in dishes to kill flies…probably bumped off a few  curious others as well)  and the  little, filament-like “fairy fingers”.  We got to see frogs and toads and spiders, mostly little-bitty guys.  We got to see an abundance of trees (What? You thought the place was paved?)and shrubs, both native and invasive species, a couple of stages on the succession of forests and the remnants of vernal pools.  No wild animals to speak of appeared to cross our path but a few had clearly been there for a woodland picnic because the bones of their appetizers were spotted in a couple of places and the odd one or two stray turkey feathers indicated that somebody was celebrating Thanksgiving early(and it wasn’t the turkey).

The day was perfect for an exploratory amble through field and/or forest.  Our ever-resourceful guide had fortified himself with a GPS app to make sure that we’d be getting back to where we’d started and not still be out there looking for a fenceline.  He also helpfully passed out laminated plastic cards describing the local tick population and what to do about them.  They certainly are ugly little buggers and they hang out with a murderer’s row of diseases—Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis(that’s always mentioned in the papers that you have to read before giving blood),Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Heartland Virus—not warm fuzzies that one would like to invite home.  Cats are about the wildest things that I can stand.

So….  That was Sunday.  On Saturday, the band—the James A. Garfield Marching Pride—went to the Solon Band Show and for the first time in recent memory, the evening was dry and , while cool, was   bearable, temperature-wise.  Mirabile dictu!  I tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve been on a bus packed full of band kids soaked to the skin and unable to get any concession-stand food that wasn’t drenched by the run-off from under the spectators’ seating.  Not a pretty picture!

Kudos to the Windham band, also in attendance, for showing what a rebuilding program and a lot of spirit can be capable of.  They did their school and their supporters and themselves proud.   The big  schools—Solon, Hudson, Kenston, for example—can blow down the walls but small can be MIGHTY mighty too.

The Marching Pride exemplified this as well, with a display of energy and enthusiasm and musicianship that captivates audiences.  One dude in the announcer’s booth said, “I love this band; they’re always so ON!”  That’s what I thought too.

And the kick-off(Ha!  That’s a joke, son.) to the weekend was—as always—the football game , with our first look at real football weather for this year.  Truth to tell, it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the weather people were hinting prior to the first whistle.  Several times I heard dark hints about the  temperatures plunging after the warm week that we had earlier…incipient Polar Vortex, for sure!  More on that later; I now have both the Farmer’s Almanac and the Old Farmers’s Almanac, which, I have noticed have both hedged their bets by saying that this could all be a pile of brown stuff if the El Nino weather pattern kicks in…or pigs fly…or hell freezes over.

And speaking of cold….   It’s a tad chilly out in space, right?(Is this a segue or what?) And there are radiations of various sorts, right?  Well, fear not, Japan’s cartoon favorite feline and exemplar of the Kawaii (“cute”) culture, Hello Kitty (Her real moniker is Kitty White; the other is just a stage name), is whirling around way up there with a special space suit and paint job designed to protect from  UV and cosmic rays.  Yes.  The little white cat with a pink bow is cruisin’ in the Japanese nanosatellite(It’s really little), Hodoyoshi 3 and getting messages from various earthbound fans—one of said messages will be drawn by lot and broadcast every day, a different one every day, from space.  She went up on June 19; it was announced on August 12, probably to make sure that no misfortune came to the little 4cm  model   which was celebrating her 40th birthday.  Somebody spent $40million on this to boost Japan’s education and science industries.  I could have got them a much better deal to celebrate MY birthday for a mere $10 million.

Cake would be extra.