The leaves rustled as I shuffled through them. I looked up at the blue sky and the gardens around me. It hit me again. I was back in Indiana. I had made it home.
I looked around at the lawns, the statues, the fountains…meandered through the estate…memories of years past…thirteen or fourteen years ago flooded my mind. Strolling these grounds, taking photos…of the statue there. Or the creek flowing down alongside the steps.
Chipmunks scurried among the leaves. I saw one disappear into the ground. I stopped and waited. My attention fixed on where he disappeared. I was not disappointed. A minute or two later, the chipmunk popped his head out of the hole. We eyed each other for what seemed like an eternity. It was a game of chicken. Who would blink first? I laughed. The chipmunk disappeared into the depths of the earth.
Near the museum I stooped to tie my shoe. Could it be? I blinked. That cone looked suspiciously like a cone from a dawn redwood tree. In Indiana?! I looked up and around. Conifers with brown leaves…as if they were getting ready to shed them….hmm…dawn redwoods are the only redwoods that shed their leaves. But still? In Indiana?
I was on a quest, asking museum docent and employee after museum docent and employee. “Good question!”, I was repeatedly told. But no one knew. I was directed to the greenhouse. And to my delight, it was confirmed. They are dawn redwood trees. I could have hugged them. The trees that is. A bit of California in Indiana. I love dawn redwood trees. Their gnarled trunks and, in the spring, soft leaves. I watched from the café as others walked among the redwoods and stopped to touch their needles. And then I trudged away through the fallen leaves. Fall in Indiana.