Well, it's here Spring arrived with the hammer down. Geez, Louise, isn't this fantastic weather? To everyone's amazement, both the boys and girls at the basketball tournaments have come and gone and we didn't get any spring blizzards. Strange world out there, isn't it? All the top seeds have gone home, all the "smart money" is down the tubes and millions of bracketers are in the trash. Even in the unpredictable world of March Madness. This is going to be a Final Four nobody could have imagined and we're looking out the window at green grass instead of piles of snow.
Sunday afternoon, a bunch of us were sitting out on the porch of one of the buildings down at the Izaak Walton Park when Darrell Johnson was telling me he had seen his first turkey vulture of the season that morning. No sooner had he finished telling me his story when a huge black shadow moved across the ground in front of us. Yep, you guessed it it was the shadow of a turkey vulture that just flew over us.
I keep waiting for mother nature to drop the other shoe. I don't think she's going to. I'm starting to think she dropped both of them at the same time over a month ago.
Another fish kill
The Department of Natural Resources is investigating a northern Iowa fish kill. According to the Iowa DNR, officials say they are investigating a fish kill in Hancock County west of Britt in Northern Iowa. This time it's on the Boone River. A nearly two-mile stretch of Boone River has been affected by the fish kill. DNR officials say the fish are a smaller, minnow-type species. The department says the fish kill appears to have originated from the North Central Co-op facility at Hutchins, west of Britt. Investigators believe about 300 gallons of water containing some ammonia were dumped on the plant's grounds, which then entered a tile line running into the river. The DNR has yet to determine the extent of the fish kill.
Antler shed time
There will be a deer antler shed hike to be held at Briggs Woods Park from 3 to 4 pm. on Saturday. Enjoy a hike in the woods with our county naturalist while you search for deer antler sheds, tree rubbings and deer beds in Briggs Woods Park. Dress appropriately for outdoor hiking and the weather. This program and hike is for people of all ages. It will last approximately an hour and a half.
I've never, ever, found a shed, not even a broken antler. Earl Stewart told me last week that he's already found a shed near his cabin south of Webster City. Well, it's that time of year .. and they're out there laying on the ground just waiting for someone to find them.
It's always risky business writing about mushrooms. Some say it's too early; others say it's too dry; some say we need a rain followed by a hot, sultry day. Some say it's not going to happen at all this year; still, others say the grass and weeds will probably cover them up; and a lot of folks think the mushroom will pop up out of the ground and then disappear all in one day. In the annals of sport whatever an annal is mushroom hunters stand out. No other sport has so many self-proclaimed and so many self-professed experts. No other sport contains so many secrets, and no other sport depends so much on the weather for it to be successful. As the old sportscaster Jim Zabel would say, "I love it, I love it, I love it." Thousands of usually staid Iowans throw their dignity to the winds at mushroom time. They carefully watch the blooming lilacs, nesting birds or unfurling oak leaves for the sign, then slip mysteriously into the woods when the time is right for morels. Don't ask where they go or try to follow. A dedicated mushroomer would sell his soul or even his favorite fishing pole before betraying his choice morel haunts. Efforts to cultivate morels have not ever succeeded, and the wild morels grow only for a few weeks each spring, so they're a rare treat. Some hunters look for dead elm trees, abandoned apple orchards or river bottom thickets. Thick woods or open pastures may hide morels. They occasionally show up on city lawns. One of the best morel crops I ever harvested grew from bulldozer tracks on a fire-scarred mountain near Three Forks, Montana. And I was with Bernie Long one time when he picked several five gallon buckets full of morels, and somewhere around the house I've got the black and white photos of it all.
Oh, and by the way don't believe old wives tales as a guide to "safe" mushrooms. There is no truth to legends that poisonous species will tarnish a silver spoon or turn dark in salt water. Don't go by the diet of wild animals, either. Some critters can eat mushrooms that are deadly to humans. Semper Fi.
And now have a good weekend.