Five days in to my week in Indiana, I've fallen back in love, as hopelessly as I did the first time.
But who couldn't love a place that offered these assorted joys?
1. Residence with my beloved former housemate Julia and her five-year-old son Alex, who now speaks only in fluent German at home. It was fun for me to try to pick out a word or phrase from tmy two years of college German many decades ago. When I came back to Julia's house one afternoon, letting myself in with the key Julia had loaned me, he came running to the door to see who it was and then announced cheerfully, "Nur Claudia." I remembered, "nur" is "only." So that was one word of German salvaged from all that intensive study. I loved that Alex considers me part of his world again, not a visitor, but a familiar fixture in his home and family.
2. Early morning walks along the Nature Park trails to the Prindle Institute, situated in beautiful woods by an abandoned quarry that is now a refuge for animals and humans alike.
3. Breakfast in the Prindle kitchen with Assistant Director Linda Clute, perched on the counters as we did in days of yore. Linda warned this year's two graduate fellows not to be surprised to see us sitting there. Apparently, counter-perching had fallen out of fashion. But I was pleased that by the end of the week, the graduate fellows were perching there, too. One day Linda brought a moist, rich cucumber cake (like zucchini cake but even better) in my honor; another day one of the fellows brought apple streusel muffins.
4. A lunchtime talk by brilliant sociology professor Mona Bhan on her research on women, sexuality, and national identity in the India/Pakistan border region.
5. A talk by ME on female friendships in children's literature, given as part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the Women's Center. To my great surprise, although I had expected the audience to be only my old friends, actual students arrived to hear what I had to say.
6. Lunch at Dairy Castle, finished off by black raspberry ice cream for me and persimmon ice cream for my friend Keith.
7. Joining with the crowd of parents picking up kindergartners from Ridpath Elementary. And then seeing those same children, a day later, pulling little red wagons full of donated canned goods to the Greencastle homeless shelter, the brainchild of one kind, determined first grader, Lilly Welch. Oh, and there was a police escort to accompany the children's bighearted parade, exactly what a police force is for.
8. A drive down to Bloomington on a perfect late September afternoon with Linda for a reunion with our former graduate fellow Nicki, who perched with us on the Prindle kitchen counters for two years and is now a second year law student at Indiana University.
9. A meeting with the Janeites book group to discuss Jane Austen's unfinished novel Sanditon; as always, champagne and scrumptious dessert (lemon bars) were served.
10. Finally, A CHANCE TO BEGIN SCHEMING ABOUT HOW I CAN COME BACK AGAIN.