Posted by: stacylynn12 | October 26, 2011

Frogs, Turtles and Toads Oh My!

When I was in high school, I think it was my sophomore year, a new band teacher arrived from of all places… Indiana. I remember so clearly thinking “Who on earth lives in Indiana? And… what do they do there?”. At this point in my life I’d never been off the eastern seaboard. I could easily envision California where there must surely be warm, sunny beaches and cute, bronze boys but between Maine and California? Maybe Colorado was cool but anything else in between…well, I just didn’t see that there could be much of anything interesting and frankly I never gave it a whole lot of thought.

Wouldn’t you know that 14 years later I would marry someone from…yes, Indiana.

Wendell Berry, a prolific American writer and environmentalist says “If you don’t know where you’re from, you’ll have a hard time saying where you’re going.”

A person’s identity is defined, to a significant extent, by the natural features of the place where they live or lived. The term “Sense of Place” means different things to different people. It is often used to describe the characteristics that make a place special and unique, or to foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never felt a sense of place in Indiana. I used to think the corn fields were idyllic but now I just see giant industrial mono crops destined to become high fructose corn syrup or feed for factory farmed cows. Ignorance was bliss.

I do however enjoy listening to Randy wax on about his youth. He talks of spending time at his grandparent’s small farm pond out in the country where we now visit his father. He has many stories of exploring the woods and creeks and we go for drives on seemingly unending gravel roads through the countryside where he rode his mini bike and chummed around with his elementary school buddies. I enjoy his stories about de-tasseling corn and his early climbing exploits involving water towers, railroad bridges and steep mud bluffs near the creek.

We frequently pass by a baseball field or two where his early childhood dreams of being a ball player were hatched. Though the requisite drive by some of the many old girlfriend’s houses and the subsequent stories they conjure up for him I could do without, thank you very much.

I also delight in seeing the children playing at “the lake” as Randy’s family calls the property. I can see that through the eyes of a child this place is simply magical. They tromp around unfettered by the usual restrictions of city life… “stay out of the street, put on your seatbelt, only go where I can see you”…blah blah. Here at the lake they pass time by cruising around the shore in search of all things living – frogs, toads, snakes and turtles to name a few. Luckily the lake is quite shallow around the edges and is very thick with mud for wading, which makes it all the better for them (and for us parents). Boys and mud seem to go together.

In Indiana the gravel country roads lend themselves to all sorts of shenanigans. We ride 4 wheelers, chuck wagons and go on couch rides (see photo). Not only do we not wear seatbelts but we let the children stand up while we tool around. Their joy is palpable. Heck, even I think it’s a hoot!

They fish daily and there is a steady stream of pint sized bluegills biting on the hook. They are gleefully reeled in, inspected and wondered at by two kids before being released back into the pond to perhaps be caught on another day. There is also a paddle boat and a row boat to explore and master while adventuring on the pond.

And then there is the pole barn with the tractors, motorcycles and all sorts of cool tools to check out. The pole barn is also the home of Randy’s toys from his youth including the immensely popular 35 year old massive army men collection (I think Randy enjoys playing with the army men more than the kids do). Editor’s Note: highly probable.

They do all of this daily and do everything all over again the next day. These are the things that make this place special and unique. These natural features and the experiences that emerge from time spent among them ensure that Bodhi and Josh will undoubtedly grow up feeling a Sense of Place in Indiana.

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Fishing on the Pond

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Bodhi catches a bluegill

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The Chuck Wagon

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Joyriding in the Chuck Wagon

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Riding the four wheeler with Grandpa

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The turtle

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Josh catches his first fish – finally!

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Bodhi and Josh hit the pond in the paddle boat

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A little yard work

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Heading out for a hike at Turkey Run State Park

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Turkey Run State Park

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One of the many famous covered bridges in Parke County

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Fall fun!

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Frog friend

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The boys in the big boat with Bodhi at the helm

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Another frog friend

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A boy and a dog – sheer bliss

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Still another frog friend… But aren’t they cute?

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A real Midwestern couch ride…now Randy should really write a post about this.

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Fall colors in Brown County State Park

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Big Brown County views

A note on time…

I’m always a few steps behind us with my posts. We are currently in Maine having spent two weeks here and will be leaving on Saturday for the Dominican Republic.

A note on editing…

I must give Randy extra credit for this post. Given my lack of connection to the land, I struggled to describe it in detail in a way that would convey a sense of place. He edited it heavily and I am grateful.

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Responses

  1. Wonderful post! We used to go to Turkey Run when I was a boy growing up in Champaign. My main memory was of not paying attention where my family went and getting “lost” on the many trails – a start of a long tradition.

    Looks like you hit a nice autumn. How come the only picture of anyone actually doing work is Stacy? Don’t those hoosier boys know how to do anything except fish and drive four-wheelers? 🙂

    Hope your time in Maine has been wonderful and we are looking forward to your posts from DR.
    Richard

  2. I spent many a times out at the pond. Loved going swimming or having a scavenger hunt. A special time in young boys youth! Good luck in the DR.

  3. Thank you for taking me along on your trip everytime I read one of your awesome posts!! xoxo

  4. Is there anything sweeter than two little chubby hands holding a frog?

  5. Another great post, Stacy (and secret editor!) I have a newfound respect for Indiana! I dreamt about you guys the other night and had a ton of fun with you – I wish you could have enjoyed it too! (o:

  6. Another good blog – the pictures are great, beautiful fall colors and such fond memories for Bodhi and Josh created at their grandfather’s property. I don’t blame Randi for being proud to come from Indiana.
    Have a good safe trip to the DR.

  7. This post reminded me so much of spending summers in Iowa (and to a lesser extent Nebraska). We had a great time taking the kids there to my aunt’s farm, the county fair, baseball fields and other adventures this summer. Midwestern pride!


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