Saturday, October 23, 2004
So why is it that I snap awake at 3:00 am on a Saturday, but it takes me a full hour to drag my sorry butt out of bed when my alarm goes off at 6 on a weekday?
A storm woke me up, and I couldn't get back to sleep because of course I have "MUST FIND DISSERTATION PROJECT" going through my head every single moment that I'm awake (and sometimes when I'm asleep). I decided to just get up and screw around on-line for a while, and when Mark finally woke his lazy self up at 5-ish, we road-tripped to Krispy Kreme with the dogs. Then when the rest of the world finally woke up, we went to Home Depot and attempted to rent a wood chipper (which didn't work out b/c it turns out "large" means "needs to be pulled home with a trailer hitch" and that was a bit more heavy equipment than we really need for a couple of shrubs), ran little errands, and were back home around 10. I felt like I'd done enough for a whole day, and it wasn't even freakin' *lunchtime* yet. Oy!
The rain just won't stop. We needed it, but I wanted to do yardwork today. I even bought new gloves!! *sob* I should work on my paper, but instead I'll probably transplant a couple of things and maybe start a puzzle.
Yesterday our 531 class went down to Midewin for the double secret behind-the-scenes tour. The prairie isn't open to the public yet; in fact, I think the only thing open may be the welcome center and a small area right around it. It's a very interesting piece of land, highly fragmented by past land uses and roads and new fences. Rather than restoring the 19,000 acres (I think that's right...it's about 30 square miles) as one continuous prairie, they're preserving chunks for different uses, including maintaining cool-season non-native grasses because of the populations of grassland birds they support, and not cutting down all of the dreadful, dreadful osage orange trees because loggerhead shrikes like to nest in them. They also lease some of the land out for cattle grazing, which is unnerving until you hear the explanation. Cattle!! on the prairie!! Aiyeee! The cattle are long-horns and very beautiful (you know how I love cow-oooooos!), and they keep the invasives and shrubs from taking over on some parcels until the management team can get around to deciding what to do with that land. Plus, income is good. The coolest part, though, was the bunkers, over 300 concrete-lined hillocks with prairie growing over top of them. We ate lunch on top of one of them. It would be a gorgeous place to go with a black and white camera in winter, I think. The grid pattern made by the bunkers is lovely. It feels a bit like a cemetery, but in the reassuring nearness of the past way, not the Sunnydale about-to-get-bitten-in-the-neck way.
They also have a huge pile of ash that is the remains of burned TNT (or side products from TNT production - I wasn't sure). The Army needs to come and do something with it, but they have better things to do with their time and in the meantime it's covered with a giant tarp. Our guide wasn't clear on whether the ash is toxic, but it seems hard to believe that it *isn't*.