Sunday, October 16, 2016

October Road Trip #1

It's been a busy autumn, so far. Not as chilly or gloomy as I would like, but hey, at least it's not ball-drippingly hot outside. A vast improvement from That Place.

The other day, I talked a couple of friends into doing a road trip. This is one of my favorite things to do now that I am back home--drive out to maybe one place that I want to see, and take my time getting to and from there, and just being open to seeing whatever beauty and quirky thing I might happen upon in the meantime.

Brian and Ryder were my partners in crime for this particular jaunt. They are good fellas, capable of intelligent conversation and not being total douche-kebabs, and they are willing to humor me when I wax enthusiastic about the unparalleled beauty of Hoosierland. Brian in particular is a helpful sort of person, as he travels through the countryside for his job, and can direct us to interesting little hidden places like this gem:

We eventually got to where we were planning to go...

There are a lot of places throughout Indiana that offer various fall-themed shenanigans. Since this was a rather hastily-planned outing, we settled on Chandler's Farm. First, we hopped aboard a rather muddy tractor, which hauled us out to a rather more muddy field, and we selected our punkins. (I should disclose: I've yet to do anything with this punkin. I fully expect it to sit on my front porch for the next month, in its original punkin state, until the neighbors complain.) Then on to the corn maze!

I've never been in a corn maze, so this was of course high on my Indiana bucket list. It was about as hokey as I expected it to be, yet still fun. That's what I've been learning about, in most of my junkets and jaunts around the state: it's all about the company you keep. 

(Angel, one of the dogs at the orchard, was not too impressed with the company he kept.)

After spending far too much time and money in the general store, we continued on our meandering road trip. And we really did meander. The early clouds and mist cleared up and gave way to a golden afternoon, and we detoured through Morgan Monroe State Forest for a bit. 

I have no idea how old these trees are. I'm sure they have not been here since when my own ancestors came through these parts, but I do like to think of them seeing these same kinds of scenes of these lands.

And although I love these journeys around the state, sometimes, the best sights are ones very close to home, as we were reminded as we were approached home that evening:

I've seen plenty of deer in our neighborhood, and Slumlord refers to them as pests, nuisances, rodents with long legs, but I never get tired of seeing the deer. And this was the first time I saw a buck! I've not yet gotten tired of seeing these magnificent creatures. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

I'm sitting in the Staff Lounge at the Library, killing time before I meet some friends for dinner. Nestled in the armchair that I'm always coveting if someone else is sitting in it, I'm trying to read some of Season of the Witch, but I keep getting distracted by the autumn afternoon visible from the big bank of windows in front of me. Late afternoon sunlight catches in the brilliant orange of the leaves of one of the trees which has turned. Cars putter their way through the Library parking lot, their drivers on the lookout for one an empty parking spot (those things are scarcer than hen's teeth) and lots of students walk to and fro on the sidewalks surrounding the building.

It's a perfect fall day, golden and a little chilly and everything I could ever ask for. But despite the beauty and bustle before me, I'm ill at ease. Because as lovely as the scene is, it belies the currents of angst and tension and fear and anger that are tugging and flowing beneath the surface of this placid tableaux. Things are golden on the surface, but peel back the outermost layer and you'll see about 365 million American people who are seething as we approach November 8.

Election Day.

Welcome to the autumn of our discontent.

I was here for Election 2004, when Kerry ran against Bush and all us liberals knew we didn't have a hope in hell of getting Bush out of the White House. We were disappointed, sure, and we were scared, but things seemed less--angry, and fraught. Whereas, 12 years later, we're in the middle of an election in which racism, xenophobia, and misogyny have been given a safe haven in which they can rear their heads; and which was accurate summed up by a meme which states, "America's like an old couch and this election is like a black light being shined upon it."

Here in our little blue island of Bloomington, it's easy to forget how very, very red most of the rest of Indiana is. But I only need to venture a little bit out of town, out into the small hamlets and townships, to see the Trump/Pence signs, and to know that I am very much in the minority. I love small-town Indiana, I love the anonymity and "nobody-ness" of Middle America, but sometimes, when I am strolling through a fair or festival in one of those little towns, and looking into the friendly faces of my fellow Hoosier, and making pleasant small talk with them, I have to remind myself, "If you were just a little bit more different, you might be experiencing these folks quite a bit differently."

Or not. Who knows? This is the same country that elected President Obama for two terms. Despite the dumbass shit being posted on Facebook and Twitter, despite the crowds thronging to Trump so that they can go back to the good ol' days of being white, I'd like to think that most of us are pretty decent folk.

It's not like Indiana sold me a false bill of goods--I knew, going into it, that I was moving to a very conservative, insular state. And I chose to come here anyway, to be one of the few who can fight the progressive good fight (although for me, "fighting the good fight" was really just banging the ears of my guests with my political opinions while they looked at the pancakes I was making with equal parts hunger and anxiety) in this state. And it's why I will stay in this country--if shit goes south (in more ways than one) in this election, I'll stay here and do what I can to help the decent folk in this country to keep alive our vision of a stronger America, a better America, a safer America, a more accepting America--the America that can always, always still come to be.