Sunday, August 28, 2011

Claudia, Explorer

There is nothing like the thrill of solitary exploration - either going on a journey without being sure of your final destination, or being sure of your destination but not being sure of how you'll get there, or what you'll experience along the way.

Yesterday I had not one, but two episodes of exhilarating discovery.

The first was my morning walk. I haven't been walking much since I arrived in Greencastle, two weeks ago, partly because almost every single place I want to go is within two blocks (literally) of my sweet little house: philosophy department office, new church, public library, and downtown built around its courthouse square. The only place I go to regularly that isn't within two blocks of my house is the Prindle Institute. Yesterday I figured out how to walk there, entirely on trails through the university's 500-acre nature park.

I had one failed attempt at this walk the day before, which is what happens when you try to use a map rather than just asking your friends. The map was one of those "not to scale" maps, which I realized only after I had walked very far on a hot afternoon to try to find the entrance to the nature park. On the second try, map abandoned, I took my friend Keith's counsel and cut through university athletic fields, and then there I was, on the path I was seeking. The signage in the nature park is fairly mysterious to the newcomer: did I want trail C2? W3? But then I saw one sign that pointed the way to the Prindle. I continued down that trail, made one wrong turn, corrected my course, and then I saw the roof of the Prindle's adjacent Bartlett Reflection Center. There it was, there it was!

That should have been enough triumphant journeying for one day, but on my return from my walk I hopped in my car and drove west on Walnut Street, which I now knew from Keith would become the road to Parke County, the county allegedly filled with covered bridges, more covered bridges than anywhere else in the world.

The drive was so beautiful, swooping and curving up and down hills, past cornfields and through woods. In the car I listened to a CD Keith had loaned me, the hauntingly lovely music of singer Susan Enan, who had performed in Greencastle the previous weekend on her "house concert tour." I got stuck on one particular song from her Plainsong album that I kept listening to over and over again because I loved it so much: "We all belong here." I couldn't stop listening to it. (I tried to give you the link to her website, but for some reason I can't do it - but do Google her - her music is mesmerizing.)

I drove for maybe half an hour, maybe more, and then - there was a covered bridge! And then there was another one! And then I was in the town of Mansfield, one of the sites for the huge covered bridge festival to be held in mid-October. The town was mostly deserted, but the historian in the old mill shared village lore, and the lady who owns the little sandwich shop sat down at my table (I was the only customer) and chatted with me all through my lunch. Upon learning that I had driven to Parke County partly in search of fudge, she gave me a package of microwaveable fudge mix off her store shelves just as a "Welcome to Indiana" gift.

Yay for the joys of exploration!


  1. There's nothing like midwestern hospitality! I'm so glad you're enjoying Indiana.

  2. One thing I DON'T like about GPS map programs.... They are meant, of course, to take surprise out of walks and drives. But this takes away the exhilarating discovery too! "Oh yes, now we'll be coming up on that 2nd covered bridge in... well,,, the road will zig right and then left and then there we'll be."

  3. Girl, you mention fudge and covered bridges in the same blog. Are you in heaven?

  4. I AM in heaven! Peggy, you are totally right re midwestern hospitality. Janet, you are totally right about the limitations of GPS and Mapquest. Denece, you are totally right about what heaven looks like!