April 1 – April Fools!

Wednesday morning I took my class out to Wakonda State park.  First we stopped at the launch ramp and saw a lot of birds right from the car: cormorants, ducks, coots and so forth.  This was going so well, I drove them around the RV campground.  I pulled up on one of the concrete pads and there were a bunch of cormorants all lined up on some logs below us…when the right front wheel on the Lil Egg went off an unseen ledge on the pad.  Thunk!  The wheel was a few millimeters off the ground and just spun.  I was high-centered.  One of the hazards of field courses is that you occasionally are very embarrassed in front of your students.  Fortunately, I’m used to this.  I flagged down some park personnel, who called their boss, the park superintendent.  When he pulled up he did not look very happy.  Fortunately, I sort of know him.  We met before and we have a mutual friend in Mike Irwin.  He had his men bring over some boards and I was able to back the car up to the level of the concrete again.  Whew!  We went over to the parking area and hiked down one of my usual trails.  We saw a brown thrasher, which was fairly lucky, and some brown-headed cowbirds.  We ended up with 25 species on the day, which was a near record. 

I said that the little craft angel the bus driver had given me that morning was bad luck.  The students said that was only because I dropped it on the ground.  The lesson: watch where you are going and do not be distracted by birds.

Later Savannah called to tell me I had left something important at home.  I couldn’t remember what it was and kept puzzling over it until she said, “April Fools!”

That night Stacey and I drove up to Mediapolis, Iowa to see a performance by Heywood Banks.  He’s a regular on the Bob and Tom radio show.  I’ve been a big fan for a long time.  I didn’t know that I’d ever have a chance to see him so nearby again, only a little over an hour away.  He did a lot of stand-up and several of his classic novelty songs (including “Wiper Blades”, “Toast,” and “Big Butter Jesus”).  I was in stitches the whole time.  He was so funny.  And his act is clean.

Thursday was fairly routine until the end.  I went to a meeting at main campus in the afternoon.  Afterward I was told that our Dean of the School of Education was “gone.”  I’m sure I’ll get the details later.  At least she was replaced by someone I really like.

Friday was the inauguration of our University president.  The ceremony was very nice.  Most of the speakers were blessedly brief, except for President Gervasi, but his speech was actually quite good.  On the short walk to the reception I was followed by members of the women’s volleyball team.  I turned and said, “Stop making me feel like a dwarf!”  They’re all really tall girls.  At the reception I talked to a lot of my friends from main campus that I hardly ever see.  When I got home, Stacey, Savannah and I went out to dinner at the newest eatery in Canton.  It was good again.  Afterward we went to the Canton Art Gallery where Savannah had some very nice pieces on display with the collected works of the high school art classes.  I’ll photograph them later and show them here.

Saturday I went out to Lowell’s.  First we planted some trees.  With the soaked ground, at least digging the holes was easy.  We fished a round of the lake.  I think I may have gotten one bite.  I was working the spinnerbaits hard.  I probably will use them exclusively for another month, since I caught the Leviathan on one.  We went to Ewing and picked up 26 catfish to plant in the catfish pond.  One was kind of golden in color.  I don’t think it was an albino, but then I don’t quite know what the heck it was.  We started another round of the lake, but it was getting quite windy.  My student Shawn and one of his friends showed up and were fishing from the dam.  We picked them up with the pontoon and went partway around the lake, but the wind got too strong.  Lowell had to tack into the wind to drop the boys off at the dam again.  We hadn’t caught anything, in spite of the variety of lures the other guys were using.  I had changed to a spinner with a horrible pink blade and jighead and a white skirt.  Lowell had the pontoon about 20 feet from the dock when I hooked a nice fish.  It was 16 inches–not bad.  We went to lunch in Durham.  The guys had left the dam before we got back.  It was too windy to fish the main lake, but we fished all the little ponds.  I caught one more bass.  Lowell caught two bass and a bluegill.  While we were driving about, I saw the first butterfly of the season, just a cabbage white.

We saw this Palm Warbler in a willow tree while fishing the lake.  It’s a life bird for me, and a new record for the E.L. Reynolds Private Reserve.

We kept flushing a pair of wood ducks at every pond we visited.  We’re fairly sure they’re nesting in a box my class put up last year.

This midland brown snake (first snake of the season) was swimming across the lake.  I let Shawn hold it while I photographed it because he’s a serious snake maniac.

Sunday was rainy and cold.  We stayed home and started getting stuff out for our upcoming garage sale. We also dinked around on our computers a lot.  I discovered that if I use the Google online calendar it works at home and at work, and will sync wirelessly with my iPod.  That’s pretty slick.  So I migrated my calendar from MS Outlook.  Then I discovered Google documents, which allows me to work on a document whether I’m at home or at work, at least as long as I have a functioning internet connection.  Finally, I got a Gmail account, which I set up to fetch all email from my other accounts.  Now I won’t hit the “Mailbox Full” limit at work all the time. 

Monday we did the flower lab.  It was a bit early and there weren’t too many species out.  Nonetheless, we got it done and had a lot of fun.  Some of the dissections showed really nice ovaries and ovules.

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