Ann Zwinger on Remenbering Indiana and the White River

“When I think about growing up in Indiana, the image that comes most strongly to mind is that of the White River.  ……It took me a good many years to realize what the intimate presence of a river in your childhood means, and just what a rich heritage it is.  Or what the remembrance of a familiar countryside means…. The imprint of the Indiana landscape–the whole intermeshing of plant and landscape, of sky and earth, of people and place– is distinctively what I remember as the essence of Indiana…. perhaps that heritage doesn’t reveal itself until you’re older.  Until then you’re too busy growing up, and there is certainly the glee in leaving behind the familiar and undertaking the new.  But when you begin your own work, you have to dip back into the reservoir of your life and rediscover.  What was there, tucked away in memory, has become not mere nostalgia but a abase upon which to proceed…. There seems to be something about looking into the natural world that brings satisfactions I don’t see very much elsewhere.  One reason for this must certainly be nature’s continual restoration and continual reaffirmation of a sense of logic.  Nature can indeed be capricious, but overall, nature is organized and has a place for everything  There is cause and effect, not always clear, but the more one studies, the more one becomes aware of a natural progression of events, a natural logic.   We need logic and structure in our lives; we need to be assured that this is after all a rational world.  It’s a thin reassurance if you base it upon the actions of the human species.   People don’t always perform rationally; nature does.  The sun always rises in the east.”

Ann Zwinger, Essay, Remembering Indiana, Audubon Magazine, Jan. 95

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