With only two months left of my stay in Indiana, my top priority right now is to cram as much Indiana fun into my life as possible. Here are a FEW of the things I managed to do last week (plus my job, of course!)
1. Drove to Richmond, Indiana, for a school visit, traveling on Route 40, the National Road; construction on the road (which extends from Maryland to Missouri) began in 1811. I was able to drive for a short distance on the Old National Road, a one-lane rutted affair passing through farmlands ready for the spring planting.
2. Stopped at the James Whitcomb Riley birthday in Greenfield, Indiana, where Little Orphant Allie (who became Little Orphant Annie in the poem) came to work, sharing her stories with the young poet about the "gobble-uns" that would "git you ef you don't watch out!"
3. Visited the Two Sisters independent bookstore in Richmond, which has this recreation of Harry Potter's cupboard room under the stairs (my friend Alisa's daughter is the child perched on Harry's bed).
4. Attended a community theater production in Richmond of a play version of the wonderful children's novella The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. I've written a scholarly paper on the book so had to see the stage version to observe how they fleshed out the story to fill a 75-minute production.
5. Toured the Lew Wallace studio/office in Crawfordsville where the Civil War general wrote the best-selling novel of the 19th century, Ben Hur (actually, he wrote much of it while he was governor of the New Mexico territory, quite an inspirational feat of writing productivity).
6. Spent a weekend in Chicago on a girlfriend getaway with my friend Robin, seeing Frank Lloyd Wright's home/studio and Ernest Hemingway's birthplace in Oak Park (which Hemingway described as a town of "broad lawns and narrow minds") - this was not strictly speaking an Indiana pleasure, but "get to know Chicago" was on my list of things to do during my two years in Indiana, and now I know Chicago and this one lovely suburb much better than I did before.
7. Lay on the floor in the dark last night, with pillows and blankets, on the stage in Kresge Auditorium here at DePauw listening to a Bach piano/cello sonata in a remarkable "Lie Down and Listen" program organized by my colleague Erik Edberg - certainly a pleasure that has never been offered to me anywhere else!
So far, so good!