For Christmas I was given a lovely book, The Artists of Brown County, by Lyn Letsinger-Miller, with the introduction written by a childhood friend, Rachel Perry.
The book includes, in addition to nice reproductions of gorgeous, evocative oils and works in other media, numbers of photographs of the artists and of scenes from Brown County (Indiana), most from the first third of the 20th century, long before I came along to notice and take in my surroundings. What strikes me above all about these images is how little Brown County, and much of neighboring Monroe County, Indiana, where I grew up, had changed even by the 1960s. Now, of course, the story is quite different. But when I was a teenager, and had my first wheels, I spent untold hours exploring and relishing what I found along the back roads there.
Back when I was consumed by the fires of adolescence, my friends and I thought Bloomington and Nashville and beyond to Martinsville and even Indianapolis (pronounced, locally, Innynaplis) were the most distant of provinces, the most forgotten of backwaters, as out of the mainstream as one could get. This, of course, was not truly the situation, but reflected only our interpretation of the old, old rural way of life we saw that has in fact now become a source of sentimentality for us.
It also inspired me to think about the places that have deepest meaning to me. They are: Bloomington, where I was born, and nearby Brown County, Indiana; Martha’s Vineyard, where I learned to treasure Nature’s glory; Puerto Rico, where my mother’s roots were; Chicago, where I have lived for very close to 40 years; and above all, my newest and possibly deepest connection, the Greater Yellowstone area. Nice to ruminate about on Christmas afternoon.
The photo is of a T.C. Steele painting that I took at the The House of the Singing Winds, T.C. Steele State Historic Site, Nashville, Indiana, in 2005.