the photos above are from a series of walks Darin and i took last week in the area. we walked around town and found signs of beavers, blossoms on trees, and windy open fields. we drove a little ways West and found some hills (!!) and rivers and creeks. Iowa is actually quite beautiful, although i’m not surprised. i like the big sky, the twisted branches of its trees, and the surprisingly warm springs. the temperature has been pushing 80 for the past week, which is actually quite unusual. i clipped some forsythia that’s growing in our yard and brought it inside. its little green leaves were already coming out when i first clipped it, so we’ll see how fast my inside branches bloom compared to the outside ones. there’s even lilacs next door that are staring to sprout green! it is too windy here, though. i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, the wind can almost ruin a warm and sunny day.
instead of just writing about nature i’ll write about some of the other things i’ve been up to lately. i started to copy down recipes from the large pile of cookbooks i checked out from the library. i have so many i want to save from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, and she writes in such wonderful detail, that i’m just transcribing them into word documents. i’ve been cooking a lot, too, and i think i’ve perfected my chili recipe, perhaps someday i’ll share it here.
i’m also in search of the best coffee shop in Ames. i believe some local treasures are incomparable, like great sandwich shops or old school natural food stores with grumpy cashiers and free coffee wednesdays. on the other hand, some local novelties, like coffee shops, burgers, and ice cream, should always be vigorously compared and ranked in numerical order. i have a mental top 5 that for some reason is important to me in these three categories. and of my top 5 coffee shops, 4 of them are from when i lived in Illinois. that’s right, Normal had two of my all-time favorite coffee establishments. another two were in Urbana/Champaign where i didn’t necessarily spend a lot of time, but i wanted to and if i had lived there, would have. the other of course is the Oakes Room (does it even still exist?? anyone?) in the library at the University of Maine. i’ve been to two cafes in Ames so far and they are OK but not stellar. we shall see. when it comes to burgers on the other hand, Des Moines’ zombie burger has already made the top 5. my number one is mountain sun in Boulder and my number two is an unexpected restaurant in Bar Harbor, finback alehouse. i’m awaiting surreal orgasmic food experiences for the rest of my top 5. we’ll talk about ice cream another time.