Weathering Indiana Festivals
In one of my books I included a photo of the Onion Days Festival, in Wolf Lake, Indiana. Never mind that it’s called Onion Days—that’s another story—but the photo was taken in the early 1900s, over a century ago.
Hey, I wrote the book; I never said I took the picture.
There are also photos in Albion of what would one day become the Chain O’ Lakes Festival. Those pictures were taken some fifty or sixty years before there was a Chain O’ Lakes State Park … so if the street fair had been called that at the time it would be some pretty amazing precognition.
( While researching local history I was shown many photos of fairs, parades, and other gatherings from back a century or so: A late 1800s fair in downtown Kendallville, a 1914 wedding in the middle of Albion’s main intersection … to this day we’re still doing a lot of those same outdoor gatherings. (I assume they shut down traffic for that wedding, but maybe they had to use a team of wild horses to drag the groom in.) )
We're in the habit of holding author appearances in unusual places, so why stop now
This year Emily and I will be vendors, at the 2017 Avilla Freedom Festival. My very first book signing was at a 2011 First Friday event in Albion, so we've been outside before, and we've been in vendor-type festival situations before. The change this time is that we're going long term--three days straight, June 22-24.
That's quite a challenge for us--especially Saturday, which goes all day. The longest book signing we've ever done was, I believe, five hours. I have this figured as being something like twenty hours, total. I'm worried about how much interest we'll get, but it has the advantage of being in a town where we've never had a signing before. (And the disadvantage that I'm probably not all that well known there. Although on the other hand the paper that publishes my column, 4County Mall, is based in Avilla.) It also has the advantage of being our first signing since the release of Radio Red.
I hope you'll all join us. Naturally we'll have some discount prices and deals, and we're also going to figure out some giveaway stuff ... but even if you don't come to buy, don't let us be lonely for all that time! Stop by and say hello, and stay for all the other stuff going on. After all, it's an entire festival, not to mention a car, truck, and motorcycle show.
Selling stacks of books outside in early Indiana summer. What could possibly go wrong?
I got a bit of a weird feeling when I heard actress Erin Moran once stayed in (and got kicked out of) a Holiday Inn Express in Corydon, Indiana. A little research confirmed it was the same Holiday Inn that Emily and I stayed in while researching Hoosier Hysterical a couple of years ago. Corydon was the original state capital of Indiana, so naturally we spent some time in the area.
We weren't there at the same time as she was, of course. Well, not that I know of, although apparently she lived in the area then. I suppose it could have been the same room.
On the one hand, I was a little offended at the way the news media covered her move to Indiana, as if Moran had been banned to the seventh circle of Hell. (Apparently she and her husband moved here to take care of his mother, after her acting jobs dried up and they lost their California property.) I'd take southern Indiana over southern California any day.
the other hand, I suspect I'd choose wealthy in California over impoverished in Indiana. She'd hit on very hard times, and didn't make the move for the scenery; those of us trying to work our way up can't begin to imagine what it's like to be a TV star at fourteen, and considered a has-been by thirty. Her happy days were far behind her, and it sounds like she spent the last years of her life trying to drown her sorrows in alcohol. I remember the fresh faced kid on "Happy Days", and can't help thinking she was only two years older than me. It could have been any of us; and it's very sad any way you look at it.
I posted this photo on Instagram the other day, but didn't get a chance to put it up elsewhere until now:
That's the Albion Fire Department off in the distance, and the Sheriff's Department communications tower to the left. I'd just gotten off work and was really lucky to snap this--the orange dimmed out just minutes later.
The Pokagon State Park Saddle Barn opened for business the first weekend of April, and Emily's first day back was that Sunday. The temperature was in the thirties when she got to work, but warmed up to close to sixty by the end of the day. (Her two days this weekend have been in much nicer weather.)
It was her first chance in months to see the horses, and they were glad to see her!
I don't think they cared so much about me one way or another, but apparently they're shedding, so they were happy enough when I scratched some necks.
Meanwhile, confession: It was the first time since our car accident in September that I walked more than a mile at a time. I made about 2.6 miles, mostly on the bike trail, which is easy going. But I did hit a trail along the way and even went off-trail a little--while I still could, before the foliage fills out and blocks cross country travel. My only complications were a little ankle pain and a sore back.
Not that the trails themselves didn't have complications:
Over the winter it was windier than election season. Emily says there were a couple of small trees across the horse trail, although they didn't present a serious problem. This one was high enough that it would have held them up. I vaulted it, which was a remarkably dumb thing for someone in my shape to do in the middle of nowhere.
There was one across the bike trail, too. I'd imagine the park employees will have everything cleaned up in short order--we could see a lot of places where fallen trees had already been cut up and moved.
No idea who the gentleman in the distance is; I didn't notice he was there until after I took the picture. I wonder if he said cheese? The good news is, people are already out and about, enjoying weather that, if not great, is at least better. The bad news is, my allergies are already acting up.
But that's okay, because I love green ... and the green is coming along:
Molly Daniels Says, “Happy 'Bison-Tennial’ Indiana!”
50 Authors from 50 States highlights another Indiana author, Molly Daniels:
"I grew up in Tippecanoe County, where I survived the Blizzard of ‘78; traveled to the Indiana Dunes once; and spent many happy hours canoeing down Sugar Creek, then exploring Turkey Run and The Shades State Parks." Emily and I were on the way back from visiting Turkey Run and Shades State Parks when our car was totaled in an accident last year; but we don't hold it against the parks.
Oh, and I get a sidebar next to Molly's post. :-)
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
(Note: This was originally written on February 7th and then misplaced, which isn’t the first time. It was the beginning of what was overall a nice February—for Indiana. You all know how things changed in March.)
Or, possibly, &$@# spring!
That’s the way it is, with springtime in Indiana. It’s feast or famine, a saying that goes well for farmers wondering if they’ll be able to get into their fields early, or ever.
I was reminded of spring just a few days after that stupid groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter, a prediction that’s essentially meaningless in Indiana. There are always six more weeks of winter—we just don’t know when. It could start next week. It could start next month. (Note: It did.) If you’re having a mild winter, like we had this year, a backlash is almost guaranteed. I’m worried about whether spring is going to be full of terms like “polar vortex”, “late winter snowstorm”, and “Is that groundhog still alive? Get my gun”.
On this particular day my wife and I got out of the car while shopping and simultaneously cocked our heads, which come to think of it probably looked pretty funny.
“Is that a bird?” I asked.
“That is a bird.”
“But that’s not a bird we usually hear in February.”
“No, it’s a spring bird.”
It was indeed a spring bird, one that was soon to be very, very unpleasantly surprised. On that particular day, the outdoor temperature hit the mid-forties. Two nights before it dipped into the teens. Two days later it hit sixty and we had thunderstorms, followed a few days after that by snow.
A typical March in Indiana, the only strange thing being that we heard the bird in early February. As you read this is should now be March, which means (if you live in the Midwest) you’re dressing in layers to combat both frostbite and heat stroke, possibly on the same day. But for February, that weather was actually pretty good.
February is usually easy to forecast. You have two choices: It’s cold and it’s going to snow, or it’s not going to snow but even colder. (Note: I said usually.) But spring—spring is different. Here’s a typical Midwest meteorologist in, say, mid-March:
“Looks like a blizzard headed our way, folks—oh, wait. The radar just updated, and the blizzard has been sucked up by a tornado! I think we’re going to see some serious snow drifts.”
We have something called March Madness, which most people think is about basketball playoffs. But in Indiana, March Madness translates to ice season: that time of the year when sleet and freezing rain fall as often as snow.
“Aren’t those icicles on the electric lines pretty—oh, the power’s out again.”
Occasionally we’ll have a dry spring, and instead of frozen precipitation you can see columns of smoke in every direction, often accompanied by sirens. This is called grass fire season, and generally comes just after March Madness. People realize they can finally walk outside without fifty pounds of outer clothing, and their first thought turns to the mess their lawns have become over winter.
“What shall we do with all these branches, leaves, weeds, and trash? Oh, I know—we’ll burn them! The ground is still wet; what could possibly go wrong?”
Pro tip: All that dead plant life around your fire is plenty dry, fella. The ground being wet simply means fire trucks can’t go off road to extinguish that wildland fire you just started. And then firefighters end up out there, ironically, trying to beat the heat with their own fifty pounds of outer clothing.
But it’s spring, so who knows? I’ve helped fight a few grass fires that I had to walk around snow drifts to reach. I’ve gone out on tornado watches in March. (Terrible idea, by the way—the basement’s way calmer.) I’ve shoveled snow in May. And all the while those poor, confused birds are flying around up there, trying to figure out whether they should be heading north or south.
They’d better decide fast, because if they head west they’ll run into a blizzard, and if they fly for the East Coast they’ll run into an even bigger blizzard.
So yeah, I’m worried about that bird. What is he living on, anyway? If he pecks the frozen ground for worms he’ll break his beak. The first bugs don’t come out until … well, about now, if you include mosquitoes.
In fact, it’s not uncommon in Indiana for the big piles of plowed snow to still be melting off in July. Sometimes, on the first really warm days, you can see kids skiing down snow mountains at Wal-Mart, then surfing on across the parking lot.
It’s why I often call Indiana the greatest place in the world, except during winter. Luckily, surviving winter is like surviving pain: Once it’s over, you tend to forget how bad it is. By the end of May you can put your snow shovel away (you might want to keep the gloves and wool hat out, just in case), and enjoy the outdoors, until it gets hot.
Crazy mild February (at least, in Indiana). Trees start blooming weeks early, people can take walks without a clothing store worth of covering, we can see the light at the end of the frozen tunnel, then ...
Well played, winter. Well played.
I didn't catch this when it first came out, but here's another review of Hoosier Hysterical ... and new reviews make this Hoosier hysterical:
It was actually posted the last day of 2016, which means I'm still waiting for the first review of this year. Remember, to authors reviews are like chocolate: Sure, in theory you could have too much--but it very rarely actually happens.
In this photo, police block main roads and crowds begin to line up days in advance of Mark R Hunter’s author appearance at the Noble Art Gallery. The first person in line told reporters, “I’m actually just here to ask his wife Emily how she puts up with his genius eccentricities.” Several thousand people were expected …
Okay, not really; the photo is from the Albion Christmas parade. But that is where we’ll be this coming Saturday, from 1-5 p.m.—the old Black Building at 100 E. Main Street, now the Noble Art Gallery.
We’ll have all our books, including the latest one, Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All. Also, we just finished printing out the front and back covers of our newest book, so you can get a look at it far ahead of the scheduled March 7th release date. No police line required.
I’ve done an interview about Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All with an Indianapolis radio station, 93.1 WIBC. Just to prove it really exists:
Once I got over the mind-numbing terror, I really had a good time talking with Terri Stacy, who seemed to have a genuine interest in Hoosier history and trivia. I don’t know when (or if, because things happen) the interview ran or will run, so if anyone happens to catch it, please let me know.
Terri also said she’d send the story along to the statewide news organization that WIBC is affiliated with, Network Indiana—so if all goes well, the interview could turn up anywhere in the state.
Fort Wayne’s regional publications about what there is to do, WhatzUp, came out Thursday and … say …
Why, that’s my name on the cover! I’m actually above Mannheim Steamroller! I wonder what’s inside …
Why … it’s an interview with me! And anyone who can’t find a copy (I got mine at the Kroger’s in Auburn), can read the interview online:
Because that’s whatzup.
|A view from the Noble Art Gallery. Well, actually a view from the middle of the street. Boy, were the other drivers mad.|