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Critters of the UK


My British pony--pony or horse seen in park on morning walk today.

So far, my impression of Norwich is that it’s way more compact compared to Cedar Rapids, and older. Cedar Rapids has no medieval walls, for instance. Houses here are smaller and closer, often arranged in connected townhouses. Here, the downtown, while more lively and retail, does not have the modern, high-rise buildings. The tallest structures are castles and cathedrals.

Still, in many ways Norwich is very familiar. The climate is milder than Iowa, but close enough that people plant pretty much the same sorts of flowers. Daffodils and hyacinth are in bloom, lilacs are opening and there are lots of swelling magnolia buds.

Trees run heavily to beeches, but also some big old nut trees. Oak are recognizable, but some of the trees are of varieties we don’t have. Still, the general appearance of the land is very Iowa like.

Creatures vary a bit more. Some observations on the living things of the UK, at least in this location:

  • The Brits love their well-behaved dogs. Many are large and rather fierce in appearance. I’ve seen a lot of rather large bulldogs who look like they could rip your throat out easily. If not bulldogs, many canines are simply very large breeds, huge hairy sheep herder things that could do some damage if the notion occurred to them. But, the dogs I’ve encountered have all been extraordinarily mild-mannered. I’ve seen many dogs who look as if they could make a lot of noise, but have not been barked at once. Many dogs were off leash on the bike trail I rode this afternoon, and yet not one gave me a second glance or made any menacing move at me. You have to watch your step in Norwich—dog owners do not seem to care about picking up their dog’s refuse—but the dogs themselves seem very nice.

Fed ducks at a park, and this goose did not approve. Actually, he was yelling at gulls, which are common and upsetting to geese.

  • Birds are abundant, but not all familiar. Some large sort of pigeon or dove makes owl like hoots all day long. There is some largish bird that is mostly white, but with black markings, that I don’t recognize at all. We saw lots of ducks and geese and even swans at parks today. They all seemed familiar. As in the states, geese are large, rowdy birds.
  • Horses seem very hairy. Or perhaps they were ponies. Anyway, there were many in the park we passed through. They were fun to see up close. Dodging the piles of pony poo on the bike trail was a challenge, though.
  • Insects overall seem less obnoxious. Amanda’s house doesn’t have screens, and does not seem to need them. Nobody has to worry about mosquitos. There are no Asian beetles, but lady bugs seem to be everywhere. One is crawling on me right now as I type.
  • Squirrels are abundant, but smaller than our Iowa variety. They are grey here, not brown. And so far, I’ve not seen any act aggressive, as I’ve heard squirrels at MMU can be. I can’t vouch for that, however—I don’t know if it’s because of my size or if they just respect faculty as a matter of practice, but the supposedly mean tree rats of the hill have always left me alone. Anyway, the smaller squirrels of the UK, which Matt says are actually an invasive American species, seem pretty retiring.

Well, there you have it. Norwich is an interesting, but not particularly toothy, place.


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Of Course, You Have to Factor in the Wind Chill…

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How warm is it in Iowa today?

Bugs are around. The last shall be first in the bug world, and when you see box elders and flies, it’s usually a sign of spring.

I’m warm in a sweater and t-shirt. (Yes, and pants too).

It feels bad to work, the sun is shining so brightly in an azure sky. It’s that May funk that arrives each year, when gainful employment seems like an abomination against nature … except that the funk is in January.

I rode my bike to work today, of course. If I got off at a decent time, any time before 4, I’m not sure how long it would take to get home—might go home via Ely, passing all the way down the Hoover trail before turning Old Blackie north.

Sadly, I have bell practice at 5 and won’t get out until 6—and it will be dark.

But probably still warm.

I know that cold weather is on its way. Single digit lows are due later this week. There’s a lot more winter left in Iowa.

Then again, we haven’t had much winter yet to speak of.

As a gardener, that’s a little problematic. I recall how persistent the snow cover was last year, and how glorious the spring was when it arrived—the melting snow made the ground nice and moist and all the bulbs planted in fall 2010 were quite happy in spring 2011.

So, yeah, I’m one of THOSE people. I wouldn’t mind a couple inches of white stuff that sticks around a while.

That would show the box elders who’s warm blooded and who’s not.

But, I can’t maintain my garden Grinching for long. It’s too nice out. Just wish I was out there and not in here …

Wednesday update:  Yes, I got out of that place, if it was the last thing I ever did.  Resulting park scenes and more bug photos from MMU:

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