Living in Society Social Commentary

Summer Weekend

Ciha Fen, Johnson County, Iowa

Dan and I visited the Ciha Fen Preserve across the Cedar River in Johnson County on Saturday.

“The Ciha Fen Preserve is a sand prairie/savanna complex on a wind-deposited sand ridge,” according to “It contains the Ciha Fen, which is one of the only two documented remaining nutrient-poor fens known in the state of Iowa.  It has numerous rare plant and animals species.”

Wild Flower

It was a chance to spend part of the afternoon together. We were the only visitors when we stopped by.

When the Catholic parish opened a new grade school, Dan and his siblings transferred in from public schools. Since then we’ve done a lot together.

After lunch at one of our local Mexican restaurants we returned to the house to work in the kitchen. I put six pints of vegetable broth on the stove to process; made a spice mix using using cayenne pepper, Serrano pepper, curry powder and cumin; and made a batch of homemade sweet chili sauce for tacos. We wished we lived closer together to spend more afternoons like this. I sent him home with two paper grocery bags of vegetables and small jars of the spice mix and chili sauce.

Mexican Flag Enchiladas

Before he left, we toured the garden. The limbs of apple trees are filled with fruit, bending under its weight. There is a lot of growing left in the season and I’ll have to prop branches up so they don’t break. Japanese beetles are in the apple trees eating leaves and procreating. There are more of them this year than last, but it’s not the worst infestation we’ve had.

It’s a turning point toward summer. Spring garden planting is finished, leaving weeds to be pulled and crops to be grown and harvested. It’s time to begin work on the rest of the yard. That will be my July: pruning lilacs, cutting dead limbs from trees, and addressing the planting area in front of the house. I’ll start today, but not before I put the spring tools away and park my car inside the garage again. After watering the garden this morning, that’s next on a long to-do list.

I’d better get after it.