Craig Springer

Black Widow Spider

Creepy crawlies

Glacial ice and black widow spiders in Ohio — there’s a relationship. 

Several species of widow spiders exist in North America, and Ohio has two of them: the Northern Black Widow and the Southern Black Widow — and the fear that we hold in our hearts for both of them is rational and deserved.

Charles Hall

He who smelted it

Thompson, Ohio, native Charles Hall discovered by experimentation the process that reduces aluminum from its ore to the malleable metal that swaddles your candy or can be put to use in any of thousands of ways. It all started in Ohio in February 135 years ago.

In fact, a 6-pound, 9-inch pyramid of aluminum was set atop the Washington Monument in 1884 just for that purpose. The cost of that pyramid is unknown, but had it been constructed two years later, its cost would have been far less: Reducing aluminum’s ore to a metal was labor-intensive and expensive before a 23-year-old Hall — working in a shed in his parents’ Oberlin backyard — happened upon what is now called the Hall method for reducing globs of ore to metal by applying electric current.

Gold pan

Glacial gold

Most folks familiar with Ohio’s geography know that glaciers covered two-thirds of the state, sparing only the southeastern portion from the cold crush of a Pleistocene winter. 

The glaciers also left a little prize that they picked up on the slow slog south: gold.

Yes, there is gold in Ohio. You can find it in perhaps most any stream that flows over glaciated Ohio, but the vast majority of the fine flecks of the yellow metal occur where the glaciers advanced their farthest and fell apart — melted — dropping what they had carried along.

Ladybug life cycle

Ladybugs

In 1975, the Ohio General Assembly chose the ladybug as the official state insect, citing attributes shared with the great people of the Buckeye State.

This orange-and-black or red-and-black speck of an insect (which is technically a beetle rather than a bug) is the size of a pencil eraser, and it brings a welcomed utility to orchardists and farmers alike. Ladybugs, as cute and dainty as they may be, are voracious predators of other bugs, including some destructive ones that are too small for the human eye to see.

A collection of buckeyes

A bit about buckeyes

The nasally call of summer insects has begun to fade away, and the shiny wax coating of tree leaves is beginning to lose its luster. As summer turns toward fall, buckeye seeds come to rest on the forest floor, where they will sink into the soil and take root, as they’ve done since the Pleistocene winter of 10,000 years ago.

Coded in that inedible promise of a would-be tree lies all the information the seed needs in order to make a living in Ohio’s rich and varied soils — just add water and light.

Two men pose with a wagon drawn by horses, designed to carry and deliver ice.

Ice delivery: Frozen in time

Let’s look to the future: It’s mid-July and incredibly hot, just as it’s been every summer. On one of those 80-80 days — in the ballpark of 80 degrees accompanied by 80 percent humidity — the condensation pools on the table around the base of your glass of iced tea.

Conveniently, ice is but a few steps away. Open the freezer, twist a white rectangular tray, and cubes fall out; push a button on the door and crescent-shaped ice chips cascade into your glass.

A crowd stands around the crashed ship staring at the wreckage.

Shipwreck: The U.S.S. Shenandoah

The notion seems so fanciful: A U.S. Navy ship sinks in Ohio, not in Lake Erie or the Ohio River, but over the Appalachian piedmont of Noble County. It was a rural, bucolic setting — a patchwork of woodlots and farm fields split by fence lines and hedgerows and narrow roads with curves that followed the contours of the hillsides.

And the sky! An ocean blue that seemed meant for sailing — this, after all, is not a maritime tale, but rather, an aviation story.

A trail with an individual walking on it, pictured from the ground.

Walking for the health of it

You descend from a long line of walkers. Walking was a way of life for virtually all of your ancestors. Other forms of conveyance, from bicycles to jet propulsion, are, in the scheme of things, quite new to us.

This primal form of getting from one place to another is an elixir: it burns some calories, improves your heart’s health — and takes the wrinkle out of your brow.

Edmund G. Ross sitting in a chair and looking into the distance

The vote: Ohio's Edmund G. Ross

The year 1868 was one of turmoil and uncertainty in this country, when the very Union itself was in crisis. One man’s act of valor — not on a battlefield, but in a legislative body — may have been the deciding factor that held the nation together.

Edmund G. Ross cast the deciding vote in the staid United States Senate to acquit the impeached President Andrew Johnson in May of 1868. The vote earned him the widespread scorn at the time. But his act of conviction — ignoring both attempted bribery and physical threats — put him on the right side of history.