On the first day of summer, the Solstice finds us in the deep woods of Indiana. It’s shorts and tank top weather, with just enough humidity to layer a sheen of sticky on your arms and remind you that summer has indeed arrived.
Shady lanes looping around Spring Mill State Park offer the perfect motorcycle ride, and there’s plenty of handsome picnic areas to relish. Every hour the sluice gates are opened and the mossy water wheel at the Old Mill churns a giant grindstone. It’s a marvelous demonstration of iron and timber engineering, the pinnacle of technology 150 years ago.
The simpler life is thoroughly recreated at the Pioneer Village with craftsmen busy at trades of all types. They wear the heavy clothes of the period, britches and layers of petticoats, that seem unbearably suffocating in this century’s warmer climate. Our thin and wiry pioneer forefathers would be mortified at the limited clothing that scantily drapes the ample flesh rolling around the grounds today.
Peeking into the tiny log cabins outfitted with the few possessions of early settlers – an iron pot here, a straw mattress there – kindles a yearning for a minimalist life. There’s something clean and liberating when your belongings are pared down to the basics. As if your personality has room to flourish and there’s space for your soul to soar. Without the distraction of goods and assets, minus the chattel of property and things, the superficial dressing of a material life falls away and the core of your Being has a chance to be revealed.
Here in the modern age we seem to be defined by our Stuff. And we spend a lot of time and energy to sort and clean and maintain our junk. Jumbled piles overgrow closets and drawers, useless things wander into corners and cupboards, dusty treasures that once seemed important are stacked in forgotten boxes which fill garages and basements. It all encroaches on the livable space of homes, and we are powerless to stop the invasion of acquisition. It’s the defining aspect of the American middle class – consumerism.
This is all brought to the forefront when we’re camping in the motorhome. For here, in about 200 square feet, are all the necessities needed to live comfortably. We can cook and shower, entertain and rest, and busy ourselves with outdoors activities. This is the pioneer cabin made easy and carefree by the miracle of electricity and the marvel of grocery stores.
It’s the cozy space we like so much. Small and uncluttered. Simple yet elegant. I could easily stay here in the woods all summer!