Illinois: all about corn, soybeans; soybeans and corn...
Corn and soybeans. Soybeans and corn. That, in a few words, is pretty much what Illinois is all about.
Well, at least in the view of a young fellow in North Carolina.
We’ll get back to corn and soybeans in just a bit. First, an update: you will note that there is a picture of a bird, of some kind, accompanying this week’s column. I believe this would be one of the birds which was mentioned last week in this space.
The picture was taken in the approaching dark of the night one day last week. Still don’t know what kind of bird we’re seeing. However, I am confident that the creature is neither an Australian wood duck, nor is it an emu.
Now, let’s get back to corn and soybeans...
...during July, when it was pretty much nasty hot and nasty humid, we welcomed a young visitor from the Tar Heel State, AKA North Carolina. At this point in our lives, we get to see him about once a year. The place he calls home is just a bit too far for a Sunday afternoon drive. Such is life.
As has been the case in recent years, he came during what proved to the hottest and most humidest time of the summer. We can’t figure that out. We suggested, again, that we need to get him to God’s country in the fall, when the weather, hopefully, would be much nicer.
The sweltering summer weather impacted some of our plans while he was here. We made adjustments. And planned other activities, when the weather was just a bit more cooperative. Sort of.
One day last week, we decided to take a bit of road trip in the “cool” of the evening. My idea was to motor to the Union County State Fish and Wildlife Area near Ware and check out if any creatures might be wandering around as the sun was about to set.
Such a journey also would give us an opportunity to see corn and soybeans which are growing in Union County. That was rather significant. You see, our guest has a friend back home who seems to think that all of Illinois is covered in corn and soybeans. To be honest, I guess such an image of the Land of Lincoln is a whole lot better than seeing the entire State of Illinois as a suburb of Chicago.
Well, we did see corn. And soybeans. There were fields of the future crops along Illinois Route 146 between Jonesboro and Ware. We also spotted lots of corn and soybeans growing at the fish and wildlife area, which most of us around here simply know as the refuge.
We did see a few critters at the refuge: several kinds of birds, including an egret which made a rather spectacular appearance while flying over an almost dry ditch. At one point, we could hear what I assumed was a bird of prey calling from a distant tree line. Never did see the bird. We also did not see any turtles at the refuge. Odd.
After our journey through the refuge, I figured we were headed home. Nope.
The Other Half suggested that we motor to Grand Tower to give our visitor an opportunity to get an up-close look at the Mississippi River. Seemed like a nice idea. So, we headed north.
Along the way, we made a quick stop to check out an historical marker which stands next to a corn field and commemorates a visit to our little part of the world by Meriwether Lewis, William Clark (perhaps better known simply as Lewis and Clark) and the Corps of Discovery back in the fall of 1803.
The Corps of Discovery was heading into history and on a journey which took them to the Pacific Ocean and back again. Wonder how they managed to make such a trip without Google maps. Even if they had been able to use that fascinating little tool, the directions they would have gotten probably would have led them down a dead end road in what is now North Dakota and they never would have made it to the Pacific.
We arrived in metropolitan Grand Tower just as the sun was setting over the tree line in the State of Missouri. Even at that time of the day, the heat and humidity were, well, hot and humid. Southern Illinois at its best.
Our visitor had a chance to get up close and personal with the Mighty Mississippi. He also was able to see Tower Rock and the State of Missouri.
While we were motoring back home along the Mountain Glen Expressway, we did a quick tally of the critters we had spotted during the course of our evening adventure. The list included deer, crows, several egrets, a heron or two, a frog (just one) and an off-in-the-distance creature which could not be identified while it took a stroll along the road at the refuge.
We did not see, as far as I know, any Australian wood ducks while we were on our summer evening adventure.