The Eastern Goldfinch was designated as the official state bird in 1933. It is commonly found in Iowa and often stays through the winter. The male Goldfinch has a bright yellow body with black wings and tail. The female has a dull olive-yellow body with a brown tail and wings. The Goldfinch feeds on seeds from dandelions, sunflowers, ragweed, and evening primrose.
The Wild Rose was designated as the official state flower in 1897. It was chosen for the honour because it was one of the decorations used on the silver service which the state presented to the battleship USS Iowa that same year. Wild roses are found throughout the state and bloom from June through late summer. The Wild Rose has five petals, which close protectively over the many stamens on rainy days and at night. Roses have no nectar, but they have pollen which attracts many insects.
Everyone in Iowa, as in most of the Midwest, is super-friendly. If you need help or just want to take a picture of a random stranger, almost anyone is quick to oblige! It's really a great part of the country!
Waving to other motorists:
I grew up in Des Moines (the capitol of Iowa and the largest city) and I have since lived in a series of small towns in Iowa. When I first moved to the country, I was very put off by the fact that, while walking to work, men would wave at me from their trucks. In the city, people pretty much go about their business without noticing each other. Finally, I realized that they weren't being sexist, it was a cultural norm. Once I lived there a while, my friends and coworkers told me that they thought I was very rude because I did not wave to them when I drove by. They even have specialized waves. The two-fingers-from-the-steering-wheel is quite popular with men and women usually wave with their whole hand. People here in Iowa are quite friendly and, apparently, expect others to be friendly too!
There are some differences in city life versus rural life in Iowa. While most Iowans are a bit on the conservative side (politically and socially), rural folks are much more so. Politically, Des Moines and Iowa City are the bastions of enlightenment (read: more liberal and Democrats) while the rest of the state are generally Republican. If you are a little more outrageous than the average Iowan, don't worry, you will more likely be ignored than hear about it outright. Iowans are generally polite and very welcoming if also a bit prudish. And remember, there are those of us who welcome pushing the limits a bit!
Dumb Iowa Laws
Kisses may last for no more than five minutes.
One-armed piano players must perform for free.
A man with a moustache may never kiss a woman in public.
It is a violation of the law to sell or distribute drugs or narcotics without having first obtained the appropriate Iowa drug tax stamp.
Any hotel in the city limits must have a water bucket and a hitching post in front of the building.
The 'Ice Cream Man' and his truck are banned.
The fire department is required to practice fire fighting for fifteen minutes before attending a fire.
Horses are forbidden to eat fire hydrants.
Within the city limits, a man may not wink at any woman he does not know.
In general, I find Iowa to be one of the last vestiges of places in America where you actually can leave the doors unlocked with little likelihood that things will be stolen. That said, however, even small-town America (Iowa included) is getting clobbered by the proliferation of drug traffickers and the problems that come with them.
In Iowa everyone usually greets you no matter if you know them or not. I think that Iowa does not know a lot about miniority groups since there really isn't a lot of them here, so in some cases I think that they stereotype other people.
Agriculture is the most important industry in Iowa, and is an important part of the state's identity and culture. The state is the world's largest producer of corn, and the largest producer of soybeans in the United States. Around 92,600 farms cultivate 30,800,000 acres (12,464,317 hectares) of land, producing 2,430,000,000 bushels of corn and 439,000,000 bushels of soybeans annually. The raising of hogs and cattle is also an important aspect of the state's agricultural economy. About 19,000,000 hogs and 3,950,000 cattle are brought to market each year.
The reason for Iowa's agricultural importance is due to its rich soil and climate. No other area of comparable size on earth can compare to Iowa in agricultural wealth or output. The state has about 11,000 varieties of soil which are the most productive in the entire world for raising crops. Therefore, most of the state has been converted to farmland. The climate is also ideal for crop production. Hot, humid summers allow for the maximum production of crops per acre, and cold winters allow the soil to replenish itself.
Visitors to Iowa can take advantage of the state's agricultural wealth by purchasing fresh produce at the thousands of farmers' markets located in just about every small town and large city.
Although Iowa does not have any spectacular mountains or other natural wonders, there is a subtle beauty in the cultivated rolling hills.
...because you will almost certainly encounter it wherever you wander in Iowa. And expect friendliness, and conversation too.
In Iowa, people seem to have time for other people. Be prepared and be willing to meet courtesy and friendliness with courtesy and friendliness.
Don't expect any transaction to be swift (not even exiting a parking ramp, or buying groceries in a store): the fact that you are a 'foreigner' (assuming you aren't from the US, and perhaps even then) will result in a pleasant chat about where you come from, why you are visiting, what you think about Iowa, and so on and so on...
It's lovely. :-)
This is VERY midwest! People are and should be generally very friendly and helpful, or at least I found that to be true. People were extremely friendly in Amana! Although, I heard some not-so-nice things about some country drivers and a few small towns being extremely rude and unkind to bicyclists. Some places just are not bicycle friendly! Grrr
While visiting with the Amish, you might notice their accents. The Amish speak German, that is their first language that they use in their homes. If you know any German, they would not mind speaking it with you.
They are also very fluent in English, so dont be afraid to speak to them. They are VERY nice people.
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