Fall in Indiana cannot be beat in terms of beautiful skies. Every day is a new display of magnificent color. Perhaps it’s the outline of gold in the Sugar maples that makes the sky seem so blue. Or maybe the cool nights followed by summer-like warm afternoons that make the clouds act with such drama. Whatever it is, that periwinkle/cornflower blue is enough to make me want to fall in love.
There were certainly lovebirds laying in the grassy field this particular Saturday afternoon, snuggling close and peering into the wide open sky for what was sure to be one of the last fine weekends of the year. Myself, one of my best friends and her daughter (home for Fall break) made a triangle in that same grass to savor our picnic of soft gooey brie, prosciutto and a bold Cabernet. We talked of college days, men/boys and jobs, and a lot about the future. We were all in such different places in our lives, it made for interesting conversation.
We hit the bathrooms before setting off to hike the cavernous walls of the Turkey Run trails. We reminisced of a former hike when the kids were young enough to run like wild boars through the creek bed and yell like banshees, their voices echoing off the towering sandstone walls. We’d been friends that long – about 22 years and our kids are still great friends although their years in college have distanced them some.
We’d all been through a lot together – the ups and downs of parenting and the friendships that make it possible. Because without friends, to share your challenges and victories with, parenting is a lonely battle. But for us, we tossed our kids into the world together, like rolling the dice, we blew our dreams onto them for good luck and prayed they would land softly no matter what they encountered along the way.
Even though it had been years since we hiked these trails, I remembered the twisted path like it was yesterday. I remembered that the cool cavernous rock formations felt other-worldly, not like Indiana at all. The first time I went there the geography was a total surprise, something hiding and waiting for the perfect moment to tell me, life is not all it seems and when you least expect it, something beautiful blows your mind. I have been experiencing some of these nice surprises in my life of late, so it all felt perfect to walk this way again.
During our hike, as I took these pictures of the gorges and weird rock formations, I felt nostalgic about having moved on from being the kind of parent I was back then, concerned mostly about my kids getting the kind of childhood that would fuel them creatively, spiritually, and socially. My friend’s daughter was the last of our five-some to leave for college and I could see that she had certainly profited from having been raised by similar thinking. I was proud of what we’d managed together and on our own. Our kids were incredible and the fact that what we were trying to create happened, was the greatest surprise of all.