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Why Iowa?

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A year ago, my husband and I decided to move to Dubuque, Iowa from the San Francisco Bay Area. All of our friends and most of our family thought we had lost a few screws in our brains! We were constantly asked “Why Iowa?”. People move out of Iowa and come to sunny California. Nobody moves from the land of milk and honey to Iowa! Even our governor put down Iowa in an ad campaign for California.

All I heard from my well intentioned friends and neighbors was that it was humid in the summer and freezing in the winter. They continued to remind me about the Bay Area weather, restaurants, culture and beauty of my native land. Why would you trade this in for corn and tornadoes? You don’t even have family in the midwest!

Even when I arrived in Iowa, Iowans asked me why did you leave California for here? Are you aware of the weather? Have you been through a winter here?

Well I am happy to report now that yes I have been through a winter in Iowa and I survived. So let me tell you why I chose Dubuque, Iowa.

We love the ocean, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, the Napa Valley, Muir Woods and the beauty of the Bay Area. But we do not like visiting these places with 2 million other people. We do not like the cost to park the car, the fees, the crowds, the litter, or the noise of so many people caged together in a limited space.

We do not like the lines at banks, stores, and doctor’s offices. When you finally get to be the first in line the customer service person has been yelled at by so many people that they are unfriendly and robotic.

We do not like the commute traffic day in and day where we are paying more at the gas pump to sit idle on the freeway.

We do not like the shoving and pushing in the malls and the total lack of respect shown by shoppers to sales staff and other shoppers.

In the past 5 years we had to have alarms placed on our vehicles. Crime became a common household word as more home invasions, gang related crimes and muggings occured in the neighborhood. The elderly never came out of their homes. I would not walk at night . We basically became prisoners in our own living room.

The pace of life was becoming more chaotic. Utility fees, housing permits, gas and taxes ate up most of the paycheck. We would come home exhausted from work only to turn on the news and hear more about killings and drugs. We began to question what is quality of life.

Now I am not saying that Iowa does not also have its share of problems. But on scale with California they are no where near as high.

I live in the country on a bluff surrounded by a forest reserve. I drive along the Little Maqoketa eight miles into the city of Dubuque. The birds sing, the bald eagles soar, the river meanders through the limestone and I feel relaxed and well. There are no lines here. I am seen within 10 minutes at the medical clinic. We have some of the best doctors and hospitals around. There are five higher institutions of learning here. People smile and say hello even if they do not know you. Your name is remembered by your banker, store clerks, and business people. It takes less then five minutes to change a license from California to Iowa and you get the license right there! There are not countless housing permits, inspections and fees to build a house in Iowa like in California. Gas prices are lower here. Housing prices are extremely reasonable. Schools are good. There is very little litter or graffiti. We have name brand restaraunts. We have excellent music and arts activities many of which are free. And the crowds of people who go to the large events is very manageable. We are always able to find a parking space.

But what we like the most is the beauty of the northeast Iowan landscape. The beautiful Mississippi River is awesome and not crowded with people or boats. The animals, birds, butterflies and lizard are abundant. Orioles, cardinals, finches, bluebirds, woodpeckers and many more birds flock to our feeders each morning. Red fox, deer, wild turkeys, quail visit me early in the morning and at sundown. I can see the stars at night and hear the crickets outside my window. It is peaceful and serene.

So yes I have to deal with ice for a few weeks. And maybe I might not have the variety of shops or selection that is offered in the Bay Area. But I have online shopping and Chicago is only three hours away. What I do have is a beautiful country setting where I can re-energize each day, a community that takes pride in its town, people who have not forgotten what it means to be respectful, friendly and honest. And a countryside filled with beauty. I am happy and proud to be an Iowan!

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Red Fox of the Little Maquoketa

Last week, as I was driving to school, a red fox sprung out of the ravine next to the Little Maquoketa and crossed the road. I slowed down and pulled off the road to watch this majestic animal. As he got to the other side he turned and looked at me. His face reminded me of my Pomeranian at home.
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I thought about him and wondered about his habitat and how he lives here in Iowa. The red fox is versatile and intelligent. He is a skillful, solitary hunter who preys on mice, rabbits, birds, and insects. But he will also eat fruit, vegetables, frogs and worms and even dog food! I am sure our forest area and meandering streams is a great habitat.

His thick tail helps him balance. He also uses its tail to cover him in cold weather and to communicate with other foxes. Foxes also communicate with each other by making scent posts using trees or rocks to let other foxes know they are around.

In winter, foxes meet to mate. The vixen (female) usually gives birth to a litter of 2 to 12 pups. Red foxes are brown or gray when they are born. After the first month, they grow in a new red coat. Both
parents care for their young through the summer and then the children go out on their own.

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