I’ve been in Indiana for a month and half, having traveled here from Connecticut, and before that Maine. It has taken me a year and a half to get to this Midwestern state from my original starting point: Jonesport, Maine. I might as well have rocketed to the moon, it’s that different. First, my launching pad is coastal. Jonesport sits with her toes in the ocean, and most of her residents earn their livings from the bounty that ocean provides. My first re-fueling station on my travels was North Stonington, CT, which happens to sit mighty close to the historically famous Mystic Seaport.
I didn’t stray far from the scent of briny fog. Plus, I was still in New England, where Yankee sarcasm and ingenuity still thrive hale and strong.
Third stop on my road trek? A moonscape compared to the craggy coast and its spiking spruce trees. Indiana is flat in comparison, with acres upon acres of corn and soybeans. As I drove with one eye on the pavement stretching endlessly before me, and the other scanning the scenery, I developed a queer sensation in my gut. Yes, the sky stretched marvelously above me. Which wasn’t unusual. I’ve been on the ocean with no land in sight.
Land was the difference here. I was traveling across solid ground, not fathoms of an alien world beneath my keel.
Oh, and what a strange land it was compared to what I’m used to! With all that farmland flattened out on either side of me as I drove along, I delved deeper into that hollowness that was my gut. The deduction? All this agriculture without an animal in sight was unsettling. What my farming friends in New England would give for a quarter of the wide open acreage! Think of the many types of vegetables they could plant. They could feed their small collection of livestock right from what they yielded on the farm. Goats, pigs, cows—nothing would go hungry, no pastures chewed down to the roots. Imagine the grazing rotations!
Alas, my Maine heart was saddened by the lack of such diversity. Corn and soybeans. Corn and soybeans. Corn and soybeans.
Not only is the land different, but so, too, are the homes. Granted, I’m generalizing here, but it seems I see more squat houses here in Indiana. Neither do many of the homes have large windows through which to enjoy the view. My suspicions? Tornadoes. Those sovereign entities of hell that would lay waste to the glass walled, high-reaching homes of the northeast.
You wonder then, what with my skin draped ’round my bones without their heart, why I’ve decided to stay in Indiana for a bit?
Frankly, at first, I wondered the same thing. Why didn’t I tuck tail and run back from whence I came?
Well, I’m not big on judging first impressions. I like to give things a little time for their true threads of gold to shine. Staying on in Indiana has achieved what I was hoping it would. With the dust settled from my move and the pace at the farm having grown into routine, I’m gleaning the gems from my daily living. The horses are now familiar, our relationships forming through daily interactions. My early morning hikes to the barn are resplendent with glittering stars in a wide, pre-dawn sky.
It’s the folks here, too, who have allowed me to coax my battered heart back out into the sunlight. A strange landscape this may be, but the people, as they are in New England, are the salt of the earth. They are not alien, but kind and generous. From what I’ve seen so far, they work damn hard for what they have, and are quick to stick out a hand to help a neighbor. Just like the folks I left back home.
So, here I’ll nest for the time being, writing novels and shoveling horse manure, until my longing to travel tickles my feet again.