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Some musings from Gilly Hollow

September 12, 2012
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

It is hard to believe I have been back to Iowa for over seven years now. It is even harder to believe I have been writing this column for almost seven years now too.

Last night lightning issues gave me fits with my network. It is fixed and running now. The torrential rains last night washed out part of my gravel lane. I am thankful for the rain. It did take me over an hour to grade.

Because I have lost so much of my morning, and my deadline looms, I've decided to rerun the very first of my columns to appear in The Chronicle, with the editor's note.

Article Photos

Tuesday, November 1, 2005. Toledo Iowa.

Editor's Note:

Mike Gilchrist's column becomes a regular Chronicle feature beginning this week. A native of Marshalltown, he has returned to the area after a long stint in Florida where he worked in media among his endeavors. Gilchrist originally wrote his column: Into the Wind" for the Iowa City Press-Citizen in the early 1980s when he resided there. Look for "In to the Wind" regularly in The Chronicle.

Some musings from Gilly Hollow

Just so you know, my gentle reader, I am a native son. I went to Florida in 1981, not for the weather, but for the economics. Remember how bad things got here in the 80s. I am back, this time, because my heart belongs here. Home is a remote homestead northwest of Toledo, on the ridge. We call our place Gilly Hollow. My father is called Gilly.

I knew South Tama County was a beautiful place to live, long before I decided Labrador retrievers were the perfect dog for the woods of Tama County. Their short coats and grooming abilities make short order of the seeds and various baggage any creature venturing into the summer woods attracts.

I knew it was beautiful here even before I learned that being at the southern terminus of a couple great glaciers carved the majestic hills and ravines which create the vertical variance in our terrain which make this place so beautiful.

I knew that in small towns, everyone seems to know everybody else. What I failed to realize is just how quickly one can make friends in a small town. I have also discovered that many hunters want to be your friend, when you have prime hunting grounds.

There are many things which endure me to Tama County. There are also many things one must endure.

One has to be able to tolerate stinging nettles if you wish to venture into the woods.

I've learned That Asian beetles are not the same as the more benign lady bug. A couple days this fall the hatches of these bugs seemed like something from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. We were invaded by the tens of thousands.

I have learned that well water in Tama County comes out of the ground coupled with hydrogen sulfide. I have also learned that the human nose can detect .005 part per million of hydrogen sulfide. I have learned I do have a good nose. I have also learned one can get used to the well water.

I have learned that puffball mushrooms explode on contact when thrown against a tree by a 12-year-old.

I enjoy the sounds of frenzied coyotes in the night when they corner and capture some unwitting prey, the young pups born this spring yipping in unison with the older, more huskily voiced elders.

I have come to appreciate the sounds of owls as they seem to carry on an aural ping pong, back and forth, hooting in the night, from distant parts of the forest.

I forgot how majestic is the sight of soaring eagles, including the three which have been frequenting Gilly Hollow. Or that one unmistakable sound is the scream of a rabbit as one of the eagles captures him in her talons.

I've learned the sound of drumming turkeys. I do not remember there being turkeys here when I hunted as a youth.

I have become reacquainted with the sound of the cackling pheasant.

I now know that humming birds will get in your face to tell you you've forgotten to refill their feeding bottle with red nectar.

I find that lowing cattle as neighbors can be entertaining, but bellowing bulls are not. I have found that certain smart calves can find the smallest vulnerability in a fence, and they know the grass is always greener on my side.

I have discovered that mowing four acres somehow seems more daunting than eight times a half acre.

I now know that living on top of a hill almost guarantees a daily breeze, and that you can live in Iowa without air conditioning. I have learned that the love of a free ranging dog is deeper than the love of one destined to a chain or a fenced yard.

We tend to take the quality of life we have here in Tama County for granted. The peaceful tranquility of rural life is an escape many city dwellers only dream of. Our life is a reality. In which city can you leave your keys in your car, the motor running, and the air conditioning on while you do your banking? Toledo.

On any given fall day, where will you encounter more tractors than cars on your way in to town? Toledo.

Where can one go to a market every Friday afternoon and buy the best of the best in produce, all summer long? Toledo.

Where does my heart lie?

Where do I want to grow old and prosper?

Where do I look forward to each and every sunset, each more unique and superior to the last? Toledo.

We are blessed. God has smiled on Tama County. I look forward to observing and sharing with you.

Until next time-

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the "Local Columns" button.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2005 - 2012 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.



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