Stirrings In The Heartland

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July 11-12, 2019, Richmond to Goshen, IN-

I stood in the small drive, next to a fence, and observed a mother donkey carefully watching over her seemingly forlorn baby.  One of the girls on the farm made a move to check on the little one, whereupon the foal got up on all fours and dashed off to a further spot in the meadow.

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Stops in certain areas have become part of my itinerary, over the past several years.  There are people I enjoy seeing, or to whom I feel drawn, and whether I visit them or not, depends on their circumstances on the ground.  Two young women, whom I love like daughters, were obviously busy and nearly overwhelmed by life, this time around, and so I gave visiting them a pass.  Others, like a waitress at Bedford Diner, in southwest Pennsylvania, are always good for an hour or so of bantering.  So, my breakfast yesterday featured some of the finest breakfast sausage anywhere, great hotcakes and the wisdom and humour of K.

After the Baha’i Holy Day commemoration, to which I alluded in the last post,  my route towards the Midwest took me through the backstreets of Homestead and McKeesport, then to I-70, Wheeling and Zanesville, where dinner at a Bob Evans to which I am also drawn, when in that area, was served by similarly engaging young ladies.  Zanesville has made some positive strides, in terms of civic pride, in the two years since I last visited.

I crossed Ohio without further ado, choosing Lewisburg, just shy of the Indiana line, as my rest stop for the night.  Despite some rough characters also taking the evening air at the motel, I had no trouble.

This noon, I was one of the first people to take lunch at Fricker’s, just off the highway in Richmond. It is party place, similar to the Dave & Buster’s chain. Mothers with their young children were enjoying the arcade.  Old duffers, with ball caps and white beards, were sitting at the bar, dispensing grandfatherly advice to the young servers and bantering with the forty-something bartender.  I took a bistro seat, and got prompt, attentive service from J., a shy but caring teen.  I could easily find my way back here.

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By the time I left, Fricker’s lot was full.  On  a whim, I stayed on U.S. 35, to Muncie, another Indiana city about which I had often thought.  Walking about downtown, I saw several references to “Chief Munsee”, who was a Munsee-speaking Lenape and whose real name was Tetepachsit.  In the early Nineteenth Century, there was a brief flurry of  witch-hunting activity, which resulted in his trial, being found guilty and execution.

There is a statue of a Plains Indian, at the southern entry into Muncie.  He is not Chief Tetepachsit, whose forebears hailed from the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania. Several assimilated Lenape moved west with  European settlers, some settling in Ohio and others, including Tetepachsit’s family, landing in the White River Valley, of which present-day Muncie (named for the Munsee people) is a part.  I could not find a parking spot near the statue, so it is not part  of this blog. More solid buildings, downtown, like this telecommunications office, were walkable from a spot near a coffee house, The Caffeinery.

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First Baptist Church presents a fortress-like image.

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This building houses the Downtown Housing Development Program.

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I saw flashes of artistic revival, on my brief walk around downtown.  This engaging ceramics studio and shop, had a well-attended class in session, at the time of my visit. Anyone is free to come in and paint their own ceramic piece.  I selected a lovely, sale-ready plate as a gift for my evening’s hosts.

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A bright mural, which has been restored, following vandalism, graces the side of another downtown.  It is a response to the Orlando nightclub shootings, and thus is a manifestation of an inclusive mindset.  A man and his 12-year-old daughter were taking this in, just prior to my visit.  It is a testament to the quietude of the area, that I would come across them twice more, taking care to reassure the father that I was NOT following them around.

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I headed towards my place of rest:  Mishawaka, encountering a slog along their development’s main street, due to the other access road’s having buckled from the heat.  After dinner, we took a stroll around their neighbourhood.  Narcissuses are a point of pride here, as are these Tropicana roses.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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My Plant Snap identifies these as Hosta Tardiana.  Anyone think differently?

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I had lovely visits with my hosts in Mishawaka and the next day, here at a farm in Goshen, where the donkey shown above was among the new denizens.    There will, no doubt, be a far different environment waiting for me at the next stop, Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighbourhood.  It’s all great, though, and part of a quite fascinating world.

 

The 2018 Road: Honours, Learnings and Observations- Part 1

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September 2, 2018, Prescott-

The forty-day journey, whose chronicle I have just completed, is now well-past the reflection stage.  The longest trip I have undertaken, since 2015, has passed without controversy, among those of my family and friends who have viewed my travels in the past, with some consternation.

There were mostly good things that happened, this summer that is nearly passed.  I want to first note those who have honoured me with their presence, in the deepest of ways.  Then, I shall note the learnings I picked up from the trek. Finally, some observations are in order.

Honours-

The first of these always goes to my family: Being in Christ Church, Philadelphia, for the wedding of my beloved youngest niece; having my son, Aram, and his girlfriend next to me during the service, throughout the reception and for much of Father’s Day.  I’m grateful to her, for having given him much happiness; being with all of my siblings, nieces and nephews and nearly all of my extended family.

My northern Nevada family has always been there for me, as well.  This year, over Memorial Day weekend, was no different.

My sister in spirit, Corina, drove an hour each way to visit with me a bit-once I got to Wilmette, but to no avail.  My arrival was way too late, so back she went, to spend Sunday afternoon with her beloved. I feel honoured, nevertheless.  Just being in the embrace of the Baha’i House of Worship is a singular honour, in itself.

Having dinner with friends in Mishawaka, IN, was a sublime blessing.  Thanks, Val and Sparky.

I cannot say enough, for the staff and fellow hostelers at Auberge Bishop, Montreal, for confirming my worth as a human being, in the aftermath of a serious loss.  I am also grateful to the agents at USAA, for mitigating that loss.  It was a joy to take lunch at one of  the restaurants of a friend’s establishment:  La Panthere Verte.  I would feel similarly honoured, again, at hostels in Baltimore and in Memphis.

One of the greatest honours is to connect with the spiritual energy of one’s ancestors. My maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plattsburgh, NY first welcomed me, and a few weeks later, my sister and a maternal cousin connected with some of Grama’s grandnieces and great grandnephews.

Penny’s family will always be my own, as well.  They helped me greatly, in the wake of Montreal.  A few days’ respite, in the family home, in Spring Hill, FL helped me rest before the home stretch, and reaffirmed our bond.  Paying my respects to her departed cousin, a few days before, in Maryland, was essential.

There are many, across the nation and world, who I regard as spiritual family. They are of all Faiths and of no Faith.  Connecting with a woman who is like a daughter to me, in Virginia Beach; an immigrant friend who is like a brother, in Salisbury, NC; and my Tennessee brother and sister of the heart, in Crossville, have made all the difference in healing a part of me that still grieves, somehow.

Being in Memphis, and feeling the pain that all of us who are of good heart experienced, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, was cathartic.  I had not cried in a good long while, and this overwhelming sadness brought out a lot.  Later in the day, walking along the banks of the Mississippi and along Beale Street, felt like a dirge was playing.  Dr. King honoured us all.

NEXT:  Learnings