Next Indiana Campfires has allowed us to geek out over beautiful environmental literature in some of Indiana’s most wild places. From reading Edwin Way Teale at the Indiana Dunes to diving into Michael Martone at the Merry Lea Environmental Center, we’ve been struck by the power of the written word in connecting Hoosiers to our landscapes.
To give you a taste of our literary excursions, we’re sharing five of our favorite environmental literature quotes (penned by Hoosiers). Let your heart swoon as you escape into the words below.
- “Yes, they’re the Indiana skies…aren’t any others anywhere that ever seemed much like them to me. They’ve been company for me all my life. I don’t think there are any others half as beautiful, and I know there aren’t any as sociable. They were always so…. Seems to me they are the softest and bluest and kindest in the world.” – Indianapolis native and Pulitzer winner Booth Tarkington, The Gentleman from Indiana, 1899
- “The Midwestern landscape is abstract, and our response to the geology of the region might be similar to our response to the cotemporary walls of paint in the museums. We are forced to live in our eyes, in the outposts of our consciousness, the borders of our being. Forget the heart. In the flatness, everywhere is surface. This landscape can never take us emotionally in the way smoky crags or crawling oceans can. We stare back at it. Beneath our skins, we begin to disassemble the mechanisms of how we feel. We begin to feel.”- Fort Wayne native Michael Martone, The Flatness and Other Landscapes, 2003
- “Late we came by this field again. The cerise glow had faded from the sky and the deep purple of twilight was merging with the velvet blackness of the night. Birds had fallen silent. The rolling waves of the windrows now stretched away unseen. The beauty of the day was gone. But the beauty of the night had replaced it. For, from end to end, the field was spangled with winking, dancing lights. They rose and fell. They flashed on and off. They waxed and waned in brilliance….For a long time after we had left this field behind, we followed firefly roads. We made turns, passed dark barns, went by lonely farmhouses where moths fluttered at the lighted window screens. Around us always, wherever we went, streamed the sparks of living fire…. They passed us in a constant meteor shower. So we wandered—half-lost and forgetful of time. For hours we followed little roads, roads without a name, roads we could never find again, but roads we will never forget.” -Pulitzer-winning Hoosier Edwin Way Teale, describing northern Indiana near the Kankakee River, The American Seasons, 1950
- “What geography can give all Middle Westerners, along with the fresh water and topsoil, if they let it, is awe for an Edenic continent stretching forever in all directions. Makes you religious. Takes your breath away.” – Indianapolis native Kurt Vonnegut, “To Be a Native Middle Westerner,” 1999
- “We both felt at home among the forested hills and limestone creeks; we knew the birdsongs, the burly clouds, the teeth-rattling thunderstorms and sudden snows, the flash of fireflies and rasp of cicadas; we knew the habits of speech, the shapes of churches and barns; we knew the smells of thawing soil in the spring and a hard frost in the hills; and those were all good reasons for moving there.” – Bloomington resident Scott Russell Sanders, “Words Addressed to Our Condition Exactly,” 2012
Looking for more? There’s plenty more to think, read and talk about at one of our Next Indiana Campfires. Sign up to attend an event here and immerse yourself in even more fantastic literature. Can’t make an event? Register for one of our 1,000 FREE Trek & Talk Toolkits and explore on your own. Toolkits include discussion materials, swag and everything you need to make your own Next Indiana Campfire.
Next Indiana Campfires is a unique way to connect nature, literature and Indiana’s Bicentennial. The program is supported by the Efroymson Family Fund, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires. Indiana Humanities is supported in part by Lilly Endowment Inc. and the National Endowment of the Humanities.
This post is part of the weekly blog series devoted to the initiative. Check back every Tuesday to learn more about Indiana’s great environmental literature, find out interesting facts about Hoosier stewardship, get all the latest program details and more.