Local Columns

Take every opportunity to celebrate

A few days ago I went to a small gathering to celebrate the birthday of a friend. Keep in mind that the other women there were all about my age, so it was nothing rowdy or boisterous, to say the least. We had a nice time visiting, taking some time to catch up with each other, and, of course, ...

Now get off my lawn

That sweet new baby you adore ̶ he/she is selfish, self-centered and ill-tempered. Just watch that baby when it’s time to eat or have a diaper changed. Or when big sister takes his binkie. We are all born that way but early in life, our parents work to change us. From the time we ...

How do you remember your hometown?

I grew up on a farm near a town of 141 people. We'd ride our bikes the four miles into town with our dollar bill and head to the little grocery store. My friend's Dad owned the store and he'd watch us with eagle eyes. For that one dollar we could buy a Coke and 25 pieces of candy. There was a ...

My advice: Soda pop and ice cream

How much pop did you drink when you were a kid? For many of my generation the amount consumed was low… very low. The topic came up over lunch with a cousin and her husband recently. In my parental home we never had pop. On a rare occasion when he went to Everett Thompson’s DX gas station ...

Our State Fair is a great state fair

It's the time of year that we Iowans do our annual celebrating at local community celebrations, festivals, block parties and county fairs. And we're now about in the middle of the queen of them all: the Iowa state fair. It is quite the phenomenon, this traditional celebration of our state. ...

Explosive largemouth

It was almost a year ago last summer that I got to spend a day on the water chasing largemouth bass with Mike Frisch. Some, maybe much of the time, when we think about late summer fishing for largemouth we think weedlines and crankbaits or jigworms. However, throwing artificial frogs in ...

A slow drive through the Coyote State

Until my family moved to Sioux City in 1974 I had never set foot in the state of South Dakota. I knew a few things about the state as a number of East Frisian (my ethnicity) immigrants had moved there in the 19th century. My grandparents and others of their generation would talk about going to ...

Celebrating cats on their special day

In case you aren’t aware, in just a few days we can all celebrate International Cat Day. Thursday is our chance for a full 24 hours of recognition of one of humanity’s oldest and most beloved pets. Even so, it wasn’t until 2002 that the International Fund for Animal Welfare joined ...

Weed Whackers and Window Cleaner

As part of my work, I visit a lot of small towns around the nation and teach them practical steps to a brighter future. I visited Roscommon County, Michigan and toured a few empty buildings.  On one corner, a major intersection into town, there was an empty building on each corner.  We ...

Find the food, find the fish

In the remaining open water months, there is one very basic thing to keep in mind for fishing success, we’ve said it before and I’m sure we’ll say it again, but it’s so important that it’s a good thing to keep in mind: If you want to catch fish now, you’ve got to find what ...

Nobody understands the crazinesss better

Whatever my siblings and I lacked in material things growing up, we were rich in cousins. My mother was one of a dozen children and my father one of six. As close as I can figure, I have more than 60 first cousins ranging from 10 years my senior to 20 years younger. I am one of the older ...

The joys of a summer bike ride

If everything goes as planned, the current edition of RAGBRAI is underway as you read this. Unless you live under a rock in Iowa, you know about this annual event that started as a simple bike ride across the state and has turned into a very real phenomenon that attracts bicycling enthusiasts ...

Some mid-summer fishing reminders

Summer continues. July is on the way out, August is here or near. Time marches on and that’s okay: What else can time do? Many anglers across the Midwest and North America report that fishing has been pretty good, bordering on excellent in some locations. And despite the thought that ...

Pretty as it gets

What do you call those little tributaries that flow through Iowa’s countryside? Poets call them brooks and streams. In some parts of the country they are referred to as branches, kills or runs. I’ve also seen them described as gills, rills, rivulets and freshets. The most common term, I ...

Unique land, unique phrases

When I was living out of state while in my 20s, I very rarely met anyone who had been to Iowa. “Oh, yes, I've been through there. . .” was what I usually heard when someone inquired about where I grew up.At least once the question was raised to ask me about how the potato crop was this ...

Things change

This is the time of year when lots of people are on the water, fishing or skiing or swimming or whatever. Sometimes on some bodies of water, we notice changes in the water. We’re noticing these changes more and more in more and more bodies of water. Those changes can affect the fishing. ...

An All-American Fourth of July

As I left the post office I saw a familiar pickup in the parking lot ̶ a rusty Studebaker pickup. And behind the wheel sat my cantankerous old buddy, Ebenezer Griper. “Howdy, Eb!” I shouted when I pulled up next to his pickup. “What brings you to town this afternoon?” “Aw, ...

The blessings of good friends

Have you ever tried to categorize your friends? To group them according to how close you are to each other? And then make a count in each category? That was the topic of a recent NPR broadcast I heard one day. Naturally, someone has done a study on just such a topic. It showed that the ...

Crankbaits in the summer

It’s been a cold, wet spring in many parts of North America, but summer is here, so we would guess that things are about to warm up. Something that has already heated up is the fishing: Fishing has been pretty darn good in many places. As the water warms up, our lure choices can speed up. ...

Deep water walleyes

When a person is preparing to go fishing, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that the fish might not be where we expect them to be. I forgot that fact recently, and it impacted my catching in a negative way. We caught lots of fish, but if I had been better prepared, we would have caught more. ...