Thursday, August 02, 2007

Another Class Reunion

I started this blog with a post from my 25th high school reunion back in 2002. So I went back last month for my 30th.

Schaller, Iowa is in a typical rural area where female 4-H members still aspire to be named Pork Queen at the county fair each summer. Yet each year it becomes more of a promotional thing as family farms are swallowed up by giant hog raising factories. The various county pork producers associations will still be out there at local events, but their presentation is kind of indicative of the perceived blandness of Midwestern life. They'll serve "porkburgers," faux McRib, maybe even a pork chop sandwich. But if you want to "promote" pork in, say, the South or the west, you have a whole hog getting smoked up in a barbecue. Or at least some kind of 'cue, not just another fried patty. At least some sausage, perhaps?

But I found one outfit that went about it in a much more appropriate way. During the saturday afternoon Pop Corn Days parade, the kids in our family group were treated to fire companies, churches and various other floats all throwing out candy, mostly Tootsie Rolls. But toward the end of a parade was a horse-drawn wagon from a metal fabrication shop in nearby Galva. One of things they were showing off on the wagon was a smoker. As the wagon passed our location, for some reason the riders gestured to me to come up to the wagon. As I did, they handed me a delicious slice of smoked pork loin on a piece of bread. Mmmm… parade meat!

For all the images of bucolia I'm conjuring up, the Schaller area also happens to be one of the leading areas in the development of wind energy. Seems it's along the "continental divide" between the Missouri and Mississippi River basin, and thus a high point which gets plenty of steady winds. So now over 100 turbine windmills are spread around the area. Looks an awful lot like the Martian tripods standing along the landscape.

Cicadas R Gone

(A quick catch-up)

What was more amazing about the cicadas than their appearance was how fast they disappeared. A few news stories about the mess their dead bodies were leaving behind, and then—gone. Guess those birds and other bug-eating critters did a very efficient job, not to mention the fact that dead insects dry out pretty quickly. Many of 'em probably just disintegrated.

Interestingly, the biggest nuisance I found with the cicadas was in a downtown area: along Dixie Highway in Homewood. Seems they had a nice avenue of trees planted some time ago, and the traffic noise along that street keeps the birds away. That made a haven for the bugs, which swarmed around all day, getting into hair, flying into stores, and just bumping into things in general. You just had to remember that adult cicadas have no jaws to bite you with, and just be glad that hornets don't operate this way.

Still waiting to see the damaged twigs and gooey masses they say we'll have as the cicada nymphs drop to the ground.