a tourist in my native land...
In the past 4 years, I have been in Indiana a total of 2 months, one month at a time, years apart. My expat friends and I agree that it's a difficult thing coming home again. I'm gone for years at a time and when I come home, with the exception of few things, it's mostly the same. Friends may have changed jobs, most local businesses are shutting down and friends are changing jobs as quickly as socks (the economy and job market in South Bend, IN are NOT doing well), there are more subdivisions and fewer fields, roads are nice but the school system is suffering...no matter how things change they remain more or less the same.
People have different reactions to me as well...snobby, snooty, adventurous, brave, boring, inspiring, insufferable. It depends on who it is; most of my family see what I'm doing with this travel-living and are proud of me and I'll admit, that feels good. But I'll go to a local bar and when people ask where I got something I'm wearing and when I reply "Mexico," "Japan," "Cambodia," "Spain"...they very rarely know how to react.
And this year I've become more fascinated with Indiana than I've ever been. It's summertime and everything is GREEN, GREEN, GREEN! The corn isn't very tall yet, but it's there, waving in the wind. The red barns in the green fields with the blue sky and white clouds...well, it's just spectacular. I had forgotten how perfect an Indiana evening can be, armed with bug spray of course; the fireflies, the crickets and spring peepers making their presence known, the setting sun casting a soft glow in the sky, and sitting outside reading, drinking a beer, and just taking it all in. This is exactly one of the things I've missed while living abroad. The family is always missed, but I sometimes catch myself forgetting these small things that make Indiana a pleasure to visit.
I've titled this one "Logan Churchill gravy-face." Barb said he looked like Winston Churchill, but with biscuits and gravy all over his face....much like the original, I'd imagine.
Logan is one this year!
This is 2-year-old Spencer laughing like a maniac. An adorable, tow-headed maniac. My nephews are the best.
A port-a-potty on the edge of a cornfield...but there's plenty of bathroom all around.
I tried to explain the dress-up goose phenomenon to my friends in Mexico (even the American ones from different places), but they didn't believe me. Fortunately, my Aunt Kay has one!
This is my Aunt Kay's kitchen, complete with knick-knacks (most of the rooster variety) and tons of good home cooking.
One of the things that I AM snobby about (mostly in other countries, but also in other parts of the States) is my corn. If it's good, you don't need butter or salt. This was good corn.
My Aunt Kay's swimmin' hole. Fantastic, with the dog riding on the raft!
The following day, we went to the St. Joseph County 4-H fair. I don't think I've been there since my early years of high school...about 10 years ago. I went with my good friend, Barb, who is also a transplanted Hoosier (she has lived in Portland for years). I'm so glad I went with a fellow out-of-towner in order to truly, truly appreciate the awesomeness that is an Indiana fair. There was all KINDS of stuff that demonstrates how Heartland this place is. Most of the time, I tried to just pretend I was from out of town and had never seen a fair before...and really, my persona wasn't entirely an act.
Sweet fair fare.
Inspecting a retro tractor.
This manufactured pond is electric blue because of the supposed harmful chemicals. Take THAT, natural beauty!
Mmmm...fresh fried vegetables!
Stuff on a stick! Or...in a bun.
A cute little root beer stand.
Thank you swine flu! It's too bad they were empty...
Holy God. Deep fried EVERYTHING. I bet they'd let Homer deep-fry his shirt.
Tie-dyed stuff, stuff with eagles on it, stuff with wolves on it, camouflaged stuff, sports memorabilia stuff, hats, t-shirts, blankets, you name it.
A fine, fine piece of American art.
This lego man was channeling my feelings...also my desire for a goblet.
Who WOULDN'T give this 1st prize? We can only imagine...
Porky the Paper Eater is still there!
I think I embarrassed this girl by taking a picture, but she was making kissy noises to calm her calf. It was cute.
Colorful prizes taunting passersby.
Local couple. Awesome hats.
The Tilt-A-Whirl! I doubt very much my stomach would have been able to tolerate this ride.
Animals getting ready to drink beer at the der Fun Haus.
A staple at any county fair: the taco in a bag, formerly known as the walking taco.
My partner in crime.
And when I got home...
...Tish prepared and I annihilated my very first crab dinner! Yum!
More to come from deep in the Hoosier Heartland!