Sunday, September 4, 2011

Surprise and Serendipity

Yesterday I went with new acquaintance Deepa, a beginning professor in the Political Science Department who works in the field of international affairs (we met at new faculty orientation), for an outing to Bloomington, home of the University of Indiana. Off to the big city! It was a day of both expected accomplishments and unexpected pleasures.

Expected accomplishments: I deposited my first DePauw paycheck at a Chase bank outside Bloomington - there is one Chase ATM in Greencastle, but no Chase branch where I can deposit anything; and I got a broken strap on my sandals repaired at a shoe repair shop (again, not a service offered in Greencastle). Other expected accomplishment: we had a delicious Thai lunch on an eatery on Fourth Street - our mission had been to go in search of a meal at the kind of ethnic restaurant unavailable where we live.

Unexpected pleasures: oh, so many! As we were driving, we saw a sign pointing us to Cataract Falls, which I knew from reading tourism brochures given to us at new faculty orientation are the highest falls in the state of Indiana. We made a detour to behold them and also came across a nearby covered bridge, this one filled with inscriptions of love poems, drawings, and other writings too tender and heartfelt to merit the name of graffiti.

Unwittingly, we had chosen to come to Bloomington on the day of a major street fair, which made for more difficulty parking but also gave the day an even more festive feel. Because of the limited parking options, we found our way to a florist with a parking lot a few blocks from the center of town: Ellis Florist. The sign in the parking lost said "For Ellis Florist customers only." So we became Ellis Florist customers: I bought a birthday card for Christopher, Deepa bought a beautiful plant, and by the time the plant was lovingly prepared to travel to its new home (its leaves misted to shine, its pot festooned with a big purple bow), we both felt as if we had a new friend in the florist lady.

And best of all, we made new friends in each other. We shared stories in the car. We critiqued the attractions, or lack thereof, in the various towns we traversed, always with an eye to extolling the greater charms of our own Greencastle. I was in need of a recipe to make for dinner guests that evening: Deepa talked me through how to make a delicious chickpea salad, which I served later that day to an appreciative response. We made plans for future fun.

Despite near-100-degree temperatures, this was a perfect day.

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