Following the gorge: Awash in wildflowers

The Little Miami River flows through a narrows at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. (Cindy Decker photo)

Ohio’s early wildflowers often make seekers scour the forest floor to find them.

But after a long winter, nature lovers will delight when they spot a minuscule harbinger of spring (also known as salt and pepper), which bears clusters of flowers only a quarter-inch wide.

As spring progresses, the flowers become more more showy.   People walking in the woods won’t have to look as hard to enjoy the variety of plants in bloom.

Indeed, the question might be where to look first, with so many blossoms vying for attention. read more

Big band sounds: A lesson in social norms

Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra gets ready to perform. (Cindy Decker)

What I expected to be a simple night out a few weeks ago – a one-and-done kind of activity – took an unexpected turn into discussions of audience behavior, expectations, and, well, what constitutes fun.

The performance by Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra at the Clintonville Women’s Club fell into the category of “things I didn’t know that I don’t know” (which is a large category indeed).

Evidently, I went into the event with one gigantic misconception.

I thought that because the orchestra performs weekly in a social club   – an event that has been going on 20 years – the atmosphere would be somewhat casual. Food is served, and guests may bring in alcoholic drinks. I expected the music to be dominant, of course, but I also expected talking, laughing and perhaps even some dancing. read more