You can argue about the season in which rural Ohio is at its best. Throw out winter — of course! — and you could argue endlessly about the lush springs, the blue sky summer days, and the colors and tastes of autumn.
Spring, of course, has its own colors — they’re just more subtle. Standing on Cousin Jeff’s elevated deck, looking out at the trees and plants and fallen pine needles and grass, you see just about every shade of green you can imagine. Couple it with cool air that smells of growing plants and bright songs from a number of different birds, and you’ve got a feast for the senses.
Cousin Jeff lives on Lake Mohawk, near Malvern, Ohio. Lake Mohawk is one of many man-made lakes in Ohio — I think the only natural lake in the Buckeye State is Lake Erie — and was made from an old quarry and some fresh springs and streams. It’s been around for years and has reached a mature state, with lots of fish to be found.
This little boy and his Dad were enjoying a warm late Saturday afternoon, fishing from one of the docks in the lake. Dad was putting bait on a hook and giving some instruction, Son was trying his luck, and they both were having a grand time.
Yesterday Kish and I drove east and north on a weekend trip. Our destination was Carroll County, to pay a visit to Cousin Jeff.
Carroll County is one of the least populous– and therefore one of the most bucolic — counties in Ohio. It’s primarily farming territory, with some Amish communities mixed in and the occasional fracking platform tucked behind a screen of trees. It’s a wonderful place to go if you like rolling countryside, the sound of birdsong, and winding roads that seem to never really go anywhere except past pretty Midwestern scenery, with horses and cows, silos and hay bales, and farmhouses and barns.
During our visit we stopped at the lovely Twigg Winery, where I had a glass of tasty Ohio red and we took in the captivating vista inadequately pictured above. There we bought several cartons of strawberries that were hand-picked yesterday morning. Forget the fist-sized, fibrous monstrosities you get at your neighborhood mega-grocery store — these sweet, tart beauties were bursting with flavor and freshness and made you remember what strawberries are supposed to taste like.
Carroll County is a good place to visit if you want to get off the beaten path and kick back into our rural heritage.
This year, in Columbus, Ohio, spring has been a fickle creature. After a few flirtatious days of warm weather and sunshine, we’ve endured days of gloomy cold and wind and rain that felt like we were right back on the edge of winter.
Today, at least, dawned clear and bright, but very chilly. It’s one of those days where the shadows seem especially deep and dark, and the relative temperature feels like it increases about 20 degrees when you walk through a shaft of sunlight.
It’s refreshing, I suppose, but I’m ready for spring to arrive in earnest — and stick around.
I’m here in O’Hare Airport tonight, waiting to catch a late flight home. So far, at least, no one has assaulted me or tried to bodily remove me from a seat — but my adventure is not yet over.
There’s definitely a surreal quality to O’Hare after dark. It’s an enormous facility, designed to accommodate huge throngs of passengers, so when night comes and the crowds have seriously thinned out, the solitary traveler is almost overwhelmed by the vast spaces. There was a guy playing a solitary saxophone at the end of the walkway leading to Concourse 3, and his echoing notes perfectly captured the kind of lonely feeling that is created when you’re traveling alone, through oppressively large, impersonal spaces that make you feel swallowed up and almost nonexistent.
There’s no better advertisement for the pleasures of “home” than O’Hare after dark.
Austin lives up to its rep. So far today we’ve explored the River Walk area, where the joggers and dog walkers roam, and checked out the downtown area and Texas Statehouse grounds. The weather is cooperating, too — warm but not too warm, with a little cloud cover and a decent breeze.
The Austin River Walk, which runs along the Colorado River and Lady Bird Lake, isn’t quite as elaborate as the San Antonio RiverWalk, but it’s a pretty area that obviously is well used by every Austinite who wants to get a little exercise. It’s part of an extensive park system that includes a cool map of Texas and lots of room for dogs, kite-flying, and general lounging.
The Texas Statehouse grounds, as the top of the hill on Congress Street, are also interesting and attractive. In addition to the impressive dome and the expected memorial to the heroes of the Alamo, shown below, I also caught an impromptu performance of a big, and impeccably attired, mariachi band, shown above. When I walk by the Ohio Statehouse on my way to and from work every day I don’t often hear traditional mariachi music.
Everybody knows Austin has a thriving bar and live music scene. Last night we started our pub crawl in the very cool Rainey Street area, which I’d never visited before, stopped to have a beer at the Container Bar, which is largely constructed out of those enormous corrugated containers used by the shipping industry, then legged it up past Stubb’s to a bar called Cheer Up Charlie’s, where a kind of light show projected against a white bluff entertained us. After noshing at Stubb’s we headed over to Sixth Street, the traditional strip of bars and live music venues that keeps getting bigger — and louder.
Around Austin you see people with t-shirts that say “Keep Austin Weird,” or something like that. After our foray through Sixth Street, I’d say that goal is being accomplished. You see people wearing flags as capes, masks, wigs, glitter, and just about any combination of clothing, or lack of clothing, you can conceive. On Sixth Street, you can still freely let your freak flag fly.