Monday, September 14, 2009

A Little Night Cruisin’

Last evening my family and I sailed the night skies…..or the next thing to it; we traversed the back roads of Howard County in a convertible.

We love living in suburban Kokomo. Our neighborhood is quiet, tree-lined and inviting, yet just down the street we have almost immediate access to some of modern society’s most agreeable and useful destinations; Outback Steakhouse, Walgreen’s Pharmacy, Marsh Supermarket, Dunkin Donuts, Applebee’s, and, most notably, Starbucks. It is, in the immortal words of Hannah Montana, “The Best of Both Worlds”. Ahem.

However, Terrace Meadows has one drawback – a big one. When it comes to stargazing (an activity we Burtch’s hold dear) our view of God’s handiwork is well, limited at best and abysmal at worst. We can see approximately ten stars from our backyard.

We decided on this impromptu trip to the periphery of our North Central Indiana county last night because:

1. We happened to have Nana’s PT Cruiser in the driveway.
2. The night was exceedingly clear.

That rare and advantageous combination propelled us (one of us already in her jammies) out the door at about 10:00 p.m. laden with jackets, quilts, and an air of unrivaled expectation.

As we drew further away from the city lights, the sky morphed into something three-dimensional instead of the pathetic, flat affair that lies above our house. At one point Julia commented, “It’s like being in space”, and she was right; it was rather like riding in the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon. I almost felt like we were going to be attacked by an Imperial Star Destroyer or leap into hyperspace at any minute. I could have ridden until sunrise.

All good things must come to an end, however, and our time soaring under that sparkling canopy did too. But when we returned home it was with a renewed sense of awe at the vast, mysterious and spectacularly beautiful universe in which we live.

…..and speaking of stars, I give you an excerpt from my favorite childhood poem:

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (Dutch Lullaby)
by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe---
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!
"Said Wynken,
And Nod.
The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Have you ever noticed how cars often seem to mirror their owners’ personalities? No? Well let me give you some examples…..

Red sports cars are typically driven by pushy, competitive buttheads that have to be number one. I mean, they cannot tolerate one single car being ahead of them, thus they are continuously changing lanes in the all-important quest of being in the lead. It doesn’t matter that you are invariably going to end up at a stoplight next to them down the road. They passed you so they win. Aggressive driver = aggressive driving habits.

This is on my mind because I was tailgated by an upscale dark blue sports car this morning on La Fountain St., in front of Howard Community Hospital. I wish I could be more specific about the make and model of said vehicle but I can’t. All I can say is that it looked vaguely European. (Sorry, but I have an appalling lack of interest in all things automotive. I grew up in Indianapolis, and I have never been to the 500-Mile Race, which apparently is the greatest spectacle in racing. Not because I never had the opportunity, but because I never had the desire. If I did go you can be sure I would take along a good book).

Anyway, this car looked expensive. Not just expensive, but actually stuck up. It was undoubtedly driven by a doctor. No offense intended to MD’s, but it was a luxury sports car, being driven in an overbearing manner and turning into a hospital parking lot in Kokomo, Indiana – you do the math.

It wasn’t just the tailgating, which really, really irks me; it was the whole demeanor of the car. Yes, this car had a demeanor. It thought it owned the road. It was out to intimidate other cars because it thought it was better than them. This was seriously one bombastic automobile (that one was for you, Edie). Arrogant driver = arrogant driving habits.

When the car abruptly switched lanes to turn into the hospital, I had a feeling it was as much to get away from us peasants in our ‘common’ rides as it was to get where it was going.

So……could I be reading too much into this? Is it possible that this was simply a doctor in a hurry because he was due in surgery? Of course it is possible. But I don’t believe it for a minute.

Alas, my fine, upstanding friends (whom I will see this Sunday in church) I guess the ultimate point of this blog is so that I can make a public confession….*deep breath*….

I really wanted to ram that car.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Let’s be honest…. Indiana is lacking in the scenery department. Before you get all defensive on me, my fellow Hoosiers, let’s just review a couple of facts:

Indiana has no ocean (no, Lake Michigan does not count).

Indiana has no mountains (no, Brown County does not count).

I am not sure that this bothers everyone. It bothers me. Deeply.

Or at least it used to…. Allow me to explain.

Perhaps my feelings can be traced back to my childhood (as feelings often can). Every year upon return from vacation, whether it was from the pristine, white beaches of St. Augustine, the multihued phenomenon of the Grand Canyon, or the lofty Black Hills of South Dakota, my Mom would say flatly, “I feel like throwing rocks at Indiana”.

By the time I reached my twenties, I had decided these shortcomings in my home state were grounds for relocation. About that time I visited Acadia National Park in Maine. As I sat on that rocky shore, staring out at the frothy white breakers of the Atlantic, the wind tossing my hair and singing a song in my ear, I knew I had found my way home. When I got back from vacation I wrote to the Bangor Chamber of Commerce about the availability of graphic design jobs in the area. I was all set.

But it was not to be.

Life intruded on my plans to escape lackluster Indiana. Life in the miraculous form of marriage, family, children, and cherished friends; my roots in Indiana now run very, very deep, and I thank God for that.

I also now recall something else my Mom used to say – “Indiana is kind of pretty in its own way”.

Indiana does indeed have its own kind of beauty, and never is it as apparent as it is in the month of September. It is a green place; every shade imaginable is represented in the lush vegetation of its parks, fields, and suburban backyards.

Grass green, emerald, moss, olive, pine. Aquamarine, jade, lime green, apple green and chartreuse. Tea green, sea green, and asparagus green.


And sometimes when the cumulonimbus clouds pile up on the horizon, the effect is an awful lot like a mountain range. Sometimes I pretend it is.