As the sheer, white curtain material of my mom’s homemade insect nets unfurled, small children seemed to materialize out of nowhere as if called by the Pied Piper. The wooden dowel handles with bent coat hanger frames were longer than any of the kids was tall.

The nets were light, though, and the long handles allowed us to keep feet and bare legs firmly planted in mowed grass while reaching into the tall field of goldenrod, rattlesnake master, and other flowers of the restored prairies in Honey Creek State Park in southern Iowa.