Sunset over the Corn
Both sides of my wife’s family are from Indiana originally. Her parents were reverse pioneers, leaving the farmsteads of home behind to settle in the wilds of Rochester. We've been back several times to visit both sets of grandparents, who grew up within miles of each other. The first time I had little idea what to expect; my prior mental impression of Indiana was primarily a vast corn field only interrupted by football fields and Republican headquarters. While that’s not wholly untrue, I have really enjoyed our trips there, especially to the grandparents’ farmsteads. Like many rural locales, it shares the same pace and sense of place as where I grew up[i]. Less topography, more corn, but the same faded signs on the sides of buildings, the same frozen parade of gargantuan John Deere contrivances across the local dealer’s yard, the same cozy local diners where the coffee is a valid substitute for diesel fuel, and the same generally congenial people.
And for the record, the whole state isn't covered in corn. There’s some soy too.
But yeah, a lot of corn.
After years in the urban flatlands of Houston, it’s always a refreshing change of scenery to get to Indiana. I’ve never really blogged about it, so I realized the other day I had accumulated a lot of great pictures and thought I’d share some of my favorites to give just a small taste of the place and its people[ii]. Obviously this is through the eyes of a non-native visitor, so your mileage may vary. Hopefully they convey my fondness for the place and family I have come to know there. It’s amazing how a place I’ve never been can make me homesick by proxy.
Old Cabinet Wood
On the Porch
(every rural town has an ice cream stand that doubles as a purveyor of local delicacies…in this case, pork tenderloin sandwiches)
Barn in Evening Light, Old Window
Mother and Daughter
Aerial, Railroad Bridge, Chief Kokomo
Lightning Rod (B&W)
Sherrill’s – Eat Here, Get Gas
Shed Line, Old Containers
Patterns in the Wheat[v]
The Throw (playing cornhole[vi])
The Euchre Game[vii]
Heritage, Kate and the Corn
The McColgins, Carnegie Library in Sheridan
[i] Except for the odd choice of white to paint many of the barns instead of the standard issue red.
[ii] Enough so to refrain from Indiana-themed jokes, like Children of the Corn references, or shouting out "Hoosier daddy?"
[iii] The Dunhams are related in some manner or another to President Obama, and their house is right down the way from Kate’s grandparents’ homestead in Sheridan, Indiana. We never did figure out the specific relationship.
[iv] The Durr homestead is part of the historic Hoosier Homestead program, hence the sign.
[v] Shame on me, I have no idea if this is actually wheat, or whether it was sorghum, or some other grain that I have been unacquainted with since childhood.
[vi] Boy was that a moment of confusion when they announced they were going to play cornhole, a term I’d associated with a completely different context.
[vii] One of the best parts of these visits are the epic Euchre games, accompanied by neverending bowls of popcorn. I will admit that, as much as I love the sense of family closeness and interaction, part of my enthusiasm is based on being able to trot out the old joke “Left bower? Right bower? I AM the right bower”.