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Well, another Columbus Day has come and gone. Each passing year brings more attempts to recognize that in 1492 our continent was already inhabited by millions of people who had their own lives, cultures, communities, religions, problems, and opportunities. This year in California, it was official Native American Day.
Scattered patches of blue dot the otherwise expansive green prairie. Curious, I meander over to the nearest blue patch, scanning for plants and critters as I go. Like most “old” prairie plantings, this prairie was seeded with large amounts of tall, warm-season grasses (switch, Indian and big bluestem), and only a few forb (flower) species.
For more than a century, Iowa City has encroached on Ralston Creek. The runoff from the outlying suburbs is managed by large dams on Scott Boulevard and in Hickory Hill Park. But downtown is mostly impermeable surfaces, making runoff very flashy.
Most people are familiar with bees that collect and carry pollen on their legs in either specialized pollen baskets called corbiculae or on long bristles called scopae. Only females have these structures, and they carry pollen back to their hives or nests, where the sweet, nutritious bits are used to provision egg chambers for their (or their queen’s) offspring.