28 October 2011

More than 'a few birds!'

In honor of two great American "dark" writers, Edgar Allen Poe and Alfred Hitchcock, I offer this prelude to Halloween...........for the birds.

Crows. I know they aren't the Ravens Poe wrote about, but they do seem to be creating some havoc in U.S. cities, including Lafayette, and at Sycamore Hill. The other day I looked outside to the withered and browned stalks remaining in the garden only to spy nearly a dozen large black crows fighting over what little seed the sunflowers, dead as they may be, still had to offer. And then today while working I heard a, well, crowing commotion in the backyard. I peered out the window to first see one, no two, wait three, no at least four dozen angry crows filling our leafless trees and swooping to the ground around the bon fire pit. And when they heard me approach they lifted off in cascades of black. Hitchcock would have been impressed....and I must say, I was a bit unsettled. Though none chided me like the Raven.

"And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadows on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted--nevermore! "

And certainly not to be outdone by the flocks descending on our home, it is that time of the year to visit the Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski. We drove there last Tuesday and watched this fowl spectacle unfold under dreary skies. While not a scene from a horror show, the guttural sound overhead by thousands can be unnerving. It is a sight to behold.

"I keep telling you, this isn't 'a few birds'! These are gulls, crows, swifts...!"
"I have never known birds of different species to flock together. The very concept is unimaginable. Why, if that happened, we wouldn't stand a chance! How could we possibly hope to fight them?" from The Birds

24 October 2011

Getting Away to Brown County

Today marks our 13th Anniversary. I think every year since our wedding we have made a point of getting away in the Fall to celebrate, except for last year. My wife insisted we get away for a few days so we landed in Brown County last week.

Last week-when the calender said October, but it clearly was late November monsoon weather.

This wasn't our first trip to lil' Nashville. Fortunately for past visits the sun was usually shining and the leaves radiated their colors. What stunk about this trip is that I had purchased a new toy-a really good camera-and wanted to try it out. I took two shots of our B&B. But, short of the weather, we had a great time. This is what the week looked like for us:

Tuesday night, after celebrating the Michigan Road Byway at High Point Orchard in Greensburg, we drove to Brown County State Park, hoping for a stay at the Abe Martin Lodge. After being charged the $5 entry fee at 9:15 p.m. I asked if it was refundable if there was no room at the inn. I was glared at. There was a room, thankfully, and the next morning we had breakfast in their dining room and drove through the park to check out the nature center and the rain-soaked leaves.

Then we drove into Nashville and met my parents at the Daily Grind Coffee House (they were on their way out of town). My dad calls the owner grumpy, but after watching my dad constantly goad him, I can understand why. We left there and meandered through the shops that included two artists' galleries. The first's clerk asked where we were from and when we said Republicania County, she said that's where her ancestors were buried. I asked what their names were and she said Boggs. I said, "really? I just wrote a National Register nomination for the Boggs homestead." They were the same; I plan to send her the document. The second gallery is a favorite stop of mine. As we looked at the paintings I noticed that several prints were created by Jim Gray (not blogger Grey); Gray was the name on a print we received for our wedding. Then I noticed a number of original "Matt Gray"s. I asked the clerk if the two were related and he said that Jim was his dad, and he was Matt. The $1000 price tag on his work was the only thing that kept me from buying a second generation Gray.

We had a bowl of soup for lunch at the Hob Knob Corner restaurant. If you've never been, you really need to go. Aside from the Brown County Courthouse kitty-corner from the Hob Knob, the building is the most historic place in town and was listed on the National Register many years ago. And the food is excellent. We checked into our B&B on the northwest corner of the downtown. The Hester House was built during the 1850s by a local judge and has been restored and turned into a Bed & Breakfast; not only is it one of the nicest places to stay in Brown County, it is also one of the most economical.

That evening we had a late dinner at the Artist Colony Inn (late for me is 6:30); it is one of the coziest places to dine in Nashville. And later we got coffee at the Muddy Boots Cafe' just a block from our B&B. I believe the place is fairly new; there were crowds there two nights in a row and live music, though when we ate dinner there on Thursday night only part of the band showed so the guitarist called it an early night.

Thursday we drove to Bloomington to visit the Bloomington Antique Mall in the old warehouse district. My wife had been there a week before and had seen a dining room cabinet she thought would be perfect for our house. It wasn't there any longer. The clerks told us to call the booth's owner in case she just switched it out. She had, and she had painted it for her own use. But she was still willing to bargain but couldn't accommodate a visit until late that afternoon. I didn't want to drive back from Nashville, so that perfect cabinet is sitting in her house today.

We drove on to Story, Indiana where we had lunch at the Story Inn. The town consists of a few houses and the inn and is a pleasant half hour drive from Nashville. When we drove up we saw a tour bus unloading. This hidden little gem is always busy and also accommodates folks from the other world......yes, it is supposed to be haunted. Back in Nashville we toured a few more shops including one potter's studio near the old Ferguson house. We visit J. Mills' studio every time we are in Nashville; he does exceptional work and has been operating from that location for as long as I can remember. We also ran into friends from Republicania County....that's happened more than once in Nashville.

Friday the sun came out. We left for home by way of highways 9 and 19 to absorb some of that fall-time beauty across the countryside we wouldn't get traveling up 465 and 31. This reads more like a travel logue, but I wanted to give a shout-out to some of the great places Indiana's famous fall retreat center has to offer......I just wish I had more pictures to go along with it. These are of the Hester House B&B.

14 October 2011

Photo Shoot on the Hill

A few weeks ago we held a family photo shoot at the farm and we couldn't have been more pleased with the results. So, this one is for our family and friends out there......

07 October 2011

Lincoln Highway Gains Byway Designation

Within a month of the Michigan Road becoming Indiana's newest state byway, the Lincoln Highway across northern Indiana was officially designated by the Lt. Governor on October 3rd. The Lincoln Highway, which was the brain child of Indianapolis Speedway founder Carl Fisher, first traversed the state from Ft. Wayne to Dyer in 1913 by way of South Bend (blue line). By 1927 motorists were asking for a more direct route so in 1928 a new alignment was marked between Ft. Wayne and Valparaiso by way of Plymouth (red line).

While the Michigan Road can capitalize on the state's early history, the Lincoln Highway can capitalize on the early 20th century's newly found fascination with auto travel. Both byways mean heritage tourism to the northern part of the state through a venue southern Indiana has been using for decades. The cities who are doubly blessed are New Carlisle, South Bend, and Plymouth due to having BOTH byways run through them.