Hermits Rock

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Saturday Drive

This afternoon we drove to Maquoketa Caves State Park. I hoped to catch a few more glimpses of spring: a newly-migrant songbird here, a tentative wildflower there. But Maquoketa is forty miles east and forty north of us—spring isn’t quite as evident there as here, where we have crocuses and irises showing themselves already.

View from under a natural bridge, Maquoketa Caves State Park, Maquoketa, Iowa

The park, we discovered, is one of those places you go to with your family, and, while you walk the trails, your kids run willy-nilly across the valley, looking in crevasses for shelter and under rocks for caves. There, a fast-walking family overtook us on the trail, while others, wearing helmets and holding flashlights, shouted at each other, “Did you see this?” But the further and higher we walked, the more silent the families became, and soon we heard nothing but a woodpecker, and the leaves rustled underfoot. It was a sunny, but cool day, and it was good to walk together, to be silent ourselves, to listen to nature speak.

Then we saw a cow, dead, perhaps of having exerted its native rights too vigorously, too soon.

Eventually, we made our way back to the car and drove home, but on the way we stopped at a Grant Wood historical site, the Antioch School (below), the first school Wood ever attended. The sign, below, an American Gothic that was, presumably, not painted by Wood (far below), welcomes all—but as we learned today, no one can enter save for those who call ahead.

Antioch School, Jones County, Iowa