The Sounds Of A Hike

It is not uncommon to meet hikers who are listening to music. Sometimes with earbuds but often playing it out loud for a group to hear.

To each his own but I will never understand the point. The act of walking through the woods is nice but there’s so much more to a hike than that physical act or what you see when you go.

The sounds of the forest are amazing, especially when you’re close to water.

The birds were vocal on Saturday as were the frogs. The wind in the trees had a life of its own too. Walking near the lake shore, I could hear turtles plopping into the water.

But if you’re quiet, you can sneak up on turtles as they sun themselves on fallen trees near the water’s edge.

Stomp through the woods with your music blaring and you’ll miss all this.

Tune into all your senses – the sights, smells and sounds of the woods – and you’ll start to notice the small details like delicate wildflowers and butterflies, nesting geese and the occasional woodpecker overheard.

Do this and it’s no longer just a walk, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Getting Out Of The House

One recent adventure included a drive through this covered bridge. I’ve been confining my drives to the county line, usually starting with an early walk at a park before heading out to see what I can see. On that day, I visited this bridge and this church.

The skies turned dark rather quickly that day, pushing me back inside, but it was nice to get out for a stretch of the legs and change of scenery. I hope you find a way to safely get outside and breathe some fresh air today.

Lincoln Memorial Bridge

I live in southern Ohio where US Route 50 passes through rural areas and towns, providing a scenic look at the region. If you stay on 50 and travel west, you will eventually find yourself in Vincennes, Indiana.

This is a charming town on the Illinois line. I delighted in my brief stay here a couple of years ago and wouldn’t mind going back sometime.

There’s a good bit to do and see including the Red Skelton Museum and the George Rogers Clark Memorial. You can also tour William Henry Harrison’s mansion where the Shawnee leader Tecumseh visited. This was sort of a thrill for me given that I once worked in the box office of the outdoor drama Tecumseh and my little nerd heart appreciated the connection to my own past. My tour guide was thrilled to meet someone who was familiar with Tecumseh and was from his part of the world.

There’s also the bridge in the above image – the Lincoln Memorial Bridge which spans the Wabash River, connecting Indiana and Illinois. If you cross it, you can visit a nice roadside memorial to Abraham Lincoln. Come back into Vincennes and you’ll find yourself in a charming downtown with some nice mom and pop shops and restaurants.

I stood on the Indiana side – between a church and the George Rogers Clark Memorial to capture this image and I think it’s a nice perspective.

Quilt Barn At Uncle Buck’s

One of my bucket list items this year is take a trail ride at Uncle Buck’s Riding Stables. Saturday was gorgeous so I took a drive after my hike and wandered past Uncle Buck’s.

The owner is a friend and he was outside so we socially distanced and chatted for a few minutes before I snapped some phone photos and headed down the road.

Their barn hosts one of the quilt blocks that I told you about last week. This happens to be one of my favorites because it’s just so different. The colors are striking and the local artist who painted the horse did a great job. I also like the setting. It’s peaceful and pretty out there.

David and I talked some about why Ohio won’t allow his business to operate right now. Ohioans can golf but they can’t take a trail ride through the wilderness. That makes no sense to me, especially since David says the average horse is eight feet long and you can social distance on a horse just as easily as you can on a golf course.

So he waits while his seasonal business loses money. His horses are still lovingly cared for and he’s counting the days until they can again welcome visitors.

News stories are always about the stock market or about industries. We talk in broad strokes about issues but we often don’t hear the compelling stories of the small business owners who are struggling.

If you can afford it, order lunch, contact your favorite shop for a gift certificate, and make plans to support those small businesses when it’s safe to do so. If you can’t afford it, share their posts on Facebook or tell others about your favorite small businesses.

Every little bit helps.

March Reading Roundup

Books have been my lifeline these last few months. I set a goal for myself to read a hundred books this year and I’m already on my fortieth. Granted some have been short and some have been books about photographers which usually are very picture heavy.

The photo above shows the pile of March books – it’s a mix of photography, history and novels of all kinds. My favorite among these was The Jerrie Mock Story which I wrote about last month. Please go read her story if you haven’t already. She deserves to be remembered.

Here are a few other notables:

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson A fictional account inspired by fact, this book is a real gem in my estimation. It’s a good story but there are two things at play that really captured my imagination. The main character is a woman named Bluet who worked as a traveling librarian in Kentucky during the Depression. This government program brought reading materials to the hills and hollers of an area where life was grueling and entertainment scarce. Many patrons were illiterate and relied on a family member or neighbor to read to them. The librarians traveled this rugged countryside by horse with materials packed in saddle bags.

The other piece of the story is that Bluet is believed to be the last Blue Fugate of Kentucky. This family had a rare genetic disorder that caused their skin to be blue. If you do nothing else, Google the Blue Fugates of Kentucky but I recommend reading the novel as well.

Helmets and Lipstick by Ruth G. Haskell This is the first hand account of an Army nurse serving in North Africa during Operation Torch. It starts with her deployment and journey to North Africa via Scotland. Parts are witty and light while others are dark and frightening.

Published in 1944, it was part memoir and part call to action as the Army badly needed combat nurses during the war. It offers insight into the war from a female perspective and a more human narrative than you’ll find in any history book.

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani I’m still working my way through the Adriana Trigiani catalog and have found that you can’t go wrong with her writing. This particular book cost $2 at Dollar General, proof that you should never judge a book by its placement in the bargain bin.

This one tells the story of a young woman in nineteen fifties New York and offers insight into a slice of life I didn’t quite realize existed.

Vivian Meier Street Photographer Edited by Joan Maloof Vivian Meier was a prolific street photographer of the mid 20th century. She worked as a nanny, spending her free time quietly slipping through the world and documenting anything that caught her eye. She mostly did this unnoticed and she died without ever publishing a single photo.

No one knew her name until a box of her negatives was found at an auction. Her photographs are insightful and moving, sometimes humorous, and always a delight to study.

** What are you reading right now? **

Surviving the Day

The migratory birds are appearing at the feeder outside my home office window. The bird feeder and the desk where I work each day actually belong to Scout, a fact he rarely lets me forget.

We’ve seen a number of newcomers the last few of weeks – some more welcome than others but all are hungry from their travels so I try to keep the seed flowing.

We also have two squirrels popping in most days. A lot of people don’t like them but I don’t mind having them around. One is quite young and was timid the first day. Now he noses right in there amongst the birds, occasionally getting chased off by a Mourning Dove or Brown Headed Cow Bird.

I feed them and then stand at the window for a few pictures before work each morning. All was right with the world when I took this photo. Then everything got quiet and every living creature scattered from view.

And then I saw it – a large shadow on the ground. I imagine it was some kind of hawk looking for his breakfast as well.

I can’t imagine being such a tiny creature in this big world. The predators would be endless – from the hawks in the sky to humans with their cars and guns and all manner of threats in between.

While I hate to deny the hawk his meal, I was glad to see my little friends all survived that day.

Quilt Barns

Once upon a time, I was the Marketing Director for my community. Of the many hats I wore at that job, one involved rallying volunteers to help paint quilt blocks which were hung on barns and a few landmark buildings around the community.

The above quilt block was painted at our local airport by people who attended an event there. It hangs on the side of a shelter house at the airport and it’s one of my favorites.

Another of my favorites is this one on an old barn at a local horse farm.

The lady who owned this farm is now deceased but I’ll never forget how her eyes lit up when I asked permission to use her barn. She was a kind lady and one of many nice people I got to work with on this project.

We did several of these quilt barns in a short period of time and there’s a special story behind every single one of them. It’s fun to look around my community and see tangible ways that my hard work made a difference.