Sense of Place (or Why the Midwest Is the Best)

I’ve lived a lot of places. Some might say I get around. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, then jumped between Colorado and California for a number of years (mountains, ocean, mountains, city/ocean) before heading back to the Midwest for grad school. While the ocean and mountains are fantastic (and you’d have to spend a significant time in the car to reach either mountains or ocean from here), though, I am really glad to be exactly where I am.

the ferns are as big as me! redwood national park.

Little 20-year-old me in Redwood National Park, CA.

2002. hiding from the wind on top of a mountain in colorado.

Hiding on an 11,000′ mountain from the wind in Rocky Mountain National Park.

2002. mono lake.

Chillin’ in Mono Lake, CA.

Back to the present. Chris and I own a house – a decent house we got for not very much money at all. We have land we can do whatever we want with – not a ton of land, but it’s ours. And if we decide in a few years we want a few acres to farm within easy driving distance of the city (if not actually IN the city itself), we will actually be able to afford that, too. What we have just would not be possible in those other beautiful places I have lived.

There’s also the question of where you are in life, what you want out of it, and how you relate to your city. While living in a progressive city where nearly everyone is on the same page, raising chickens, riding their bikes all over the place, recycling every last shred of waste that comes into their house, peeing in their compost bins, etc., is cool and all, I also feel a little like it would get… a bit boring. YAWN. SNOOZEFEST. WE ALL THINK WE’RE AWESOME AND ARE DOING ALL THE SAME, AMAZING THINGS. Do I want to be preaching to the choir? Not particularly.

I think it’s way cooler to be on the leading edge of getting those really cool things engrained into communities where it’s NOT the norm. Indianapolis has a lot of normal, everyday people doing just that.

The other thing about Indiana is that it’s downright beautiful. For real. Although it doesn’t have craggy, windswept mountains to climb or pounding waves and rocky beaches, our rolling hills are all I need to make me feel better after a long week. Which is exactly what Chris and I did this past weekend.

First, we headed to Gnaw Bone, Indiana (for real – that’s the name of the town), and Kelp’s Pumpkin Patch, which every year has the most amazing selection of decorative gourds I’ve ever seen. See previous entry, featuring “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers,” which we quoted copiously (and quietly) while we were here. Must think of the kids!

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

20121013. Best fall farm stand ever - Gnawbone, IN.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

We bypassed Brown County State Park because, oh holy crap, the line was out to the road to get in. Leaf season in Southern Indiana is serious biz! Instead, we escaped the crowds and headed toward Monroe Lake and the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, the only wilderness area in the state. First, though, we required Scenic View burgers and (strong, delicious) mixed drinks.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

Then, it was on to the Deam Wilderness and the firetower. Sadly, it was overrun by wasps, so we hit the trails instead and ended up at the most remote, peaceful graveyard I have ever seen.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

20121013. Fall leaf hunting adventure in Southern IN.

I don’t need a ton of reminders about why I love living where I live, but I love it when they jump up and hit me out of nowhere. Life, it is good. Life in this place in particular is great.

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4 thoughts on “Sense of Place (or Why the Midwest Is the Best)

  1. Awesome post – this totally connected with me. Although I grew up in Saskatchewan, I bounced around the country in my twenties – Toronto, Calgary, the Yukon – but never really settled anywhere until I came home again. I’ve struggled with my decision to live here because as everyone tells me, if I want to be an actor, I should live in Toronto or Vancouver. Which I think is sort of bullshit, really. You can be an artist/actor anywhere you want. And here, I can afford to own a house and a bit of land. If I lived in Toronto, I’d be renting an apartment with four roommates.

    Great pictures – Indiana looks really beautiful. And those are some sweet decorative gourds.

    • Don’t listen to them! There is no particular place one needs to be to do what they want in life. Okay, maybe it would be easier in certain locations – but then there’s the fact that everyone who wants to do that same thing knows it, too, and suddenly there are a bunch of aspiring actress waitresses on every corner. I think there is so much to be said for overall quality of life and not letting yourself get tunnel vision or sucked into one particular thing. Life is your dreams, yes, but it’s also affordability and not feeling like you’re being sucked dry and being surrounded by cool, interesting people and community and and and… SO MUCH MORE. šŸ™‚

      Indiana is gorgeous this time of year! Actually, it’s really pretty all year, except maybe the gray, cold days of winter (unless there’s a wicked ice storm or snow storm – then it’s gorgeous all over again).

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