Thursday, September 27, 2012

A good fetch

We have a fen in eastern Iowa! A rare fen, rare for Iowa, rare for our part of the country and this is it.  A fen is a wet area that is formed by water seeping up through the ground, not by caught rainwater, or dammed river water. The plants you can see in the middle of the "pond" are actually a mat of floating vegetation. There is peat at the bottom of the fen that is "young" peat--only 1200 years old.

This place is called the Ciha Fen, named for the farm family who owned the fen for many years, until they sold it to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, which then turned it over to Johnson County.  At the dedication last Saturday, someone asked if the fen ever dried out, and Mr. Ciha told us he remembered in 1956 the fen went dry.  We could hear his attachment to this place as he shared the memory of the dry summer with the seventy or more of us who came for this first public viewing of the fen. I can't help but think the Ciha family loved this land too much to keep it to themselves, loved it enough to share it with others who would love it too, and promise to take care of it.
Dedication of the Ciha Fen
This beautiful place is located in a sand dune in east central Iowa. Who knew we had sand dunes here? The sand dunes were built by the wind, blowing down the Cedar River Valley. Because the Cedar River Valley is long and open it offers what is called a good "fetch," so can carry a lot of sand. Over the centuries this sand grew into hills.  And that is as far as my understanding goes. What I love as a writer is that concept of "fetch," that certain valleys allow wind to blow for a long distance and that wind can carry matter.

I'm trying to think of how "fetch" might apply to writers. Do some books have more "fetch," carry a richer reading experience?  How do we do that, allow for the fetch? construct the fetch?  The answer probably has to do with more bic time, more noticing, more patience.

But before I get back to bic, I want to share these photos from the Ciha fen. 

6-lined road racer (photo by Claudia McGehee)

New England Asters on the way to the Ciha Fen
They remind me that so much can come of a good fetch.

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