I am not an outdoorsman.
Let this be known first and foremost. With that established, any mention of me out and about in the natural world is usually a daring escapade I only embark upon when necessary. I did take an outdoor adventure class in high school, however, even with all of that brief semester of knowledge under my belt, I would not survive because alas, I am a writer; and with no electricity for a laptop I could never go on, and even as resourceful as humans have proven to be in the wild as seen on Naked and Afraid I don’t believe Mother Nature has equipped us with a more primal way of creating college-ruled paper.
So now (in the relative-comfort of my dorm) I am penning my most recent journey into the mystery-scape that is Iowa City, and I must say:
Nature’s not so bad.
Apart from Mother Nature’s ever-burning desire to turn my skin from flesh to kindling, I’ve found that Iowa City is a pretty spectacular place—even with its vulnerability to the elements. It actually reached ninety-degrees here today which, thanks to my training sessions in Hell Texas, I was unbothered by. So despite the odious climate, I’ve been walking around quite a bit whether it be on the way to class or just to kill time, and I’ve never been impressed with the scenery of a town until now.
Everything here is incredibly green in every sense of the word, and it makes me scoff a bit at the peasants of grass back in Texas that are withered and yellowed with malnutrition. I almost feel as if I’ve stepped into a more wealthy and diverse part of nature, and it seems like Iowa City actually cares about its denizens—abiotic and all.
There are hardly any paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms (a fact that his caused me much grief at times), there are solar panels all across the city, and all of the nature on campus is relatively untampered with. Ducks, deer, and the occasional foxes can be spotted at random times around campus. However, Mother Nature seems to have a strange preference when it comes to other birds. They’re all tiny, fledgling-looking things, and they all hop around like bunnies who didn’t get the memo that they were birds. I have legitimately only seen this kind of bird on campus (apart from the ducks), and it’s starting to make me believe that there’s some greater conspiracy at work or a discriminatory regulation against certain birds only bypassed through an application process.
One of the many wonders of Iowa City, however, has got to be the squirrels.
There’s a term in Iowa called “Iowa Nice” (which I assume is the equivalent to Southern Hospitality) and it basically states that everyone in Iowa is uncharacteristically, almost disturbingly nice, and at first I thought it was some self-awarded accolade Iowans created, but after two weeks here I’ve realized that this “Iowa Nice” is a real thing because even the squirrels here are “Iowa Nice”.
Back in Texas, if you approached a squirrel it was either roadkill or fleeing the scene of a crime. Here in Iowa City, you can practically have a conversation with a squirrel—especially the black ones. I assume they’re the more talkative of the bunch because once winter hits they’ll be the main course of several predators. They sit, and allow you to approach regardless of whether they’re hunting for a nut or doing whatever it is squirrels do (surviving no doubt), and in that moment there is a mutual respect. (I kid you not.) One of my friends even told me that a squirrel had waited for her to cross the sidewalk before it did so itself. I’m sure that squirrel is pulling the ladies.
These squirrels are so approachable that I really and truly feel that I could have dinner with one of them, and no one would question it.
I recently read an article that said Iowa City is the 3rd best place to live in the United States, and I must say that it deserves that spot. Never having visited the campus before move-in day and coming from a large city with no public transportation system (@Arlington, TX) my expectations were quite low, but my mind has been fried every time I venture forth from my humble abode and into the outside world of Iowa City. I’ve been so smitten with my surroundings that I’ve already planned several excursions for this coming school year, and I’ll be sure to dutifully record them all—especially any dinners I have with the not-so-wild life.