Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Autumn Leaves Time for a Visit to Dixon Springs State Park and a Friend 'In the Garden'


Secret Aging Man and I were on our way to work for him and a family visit for me when I saw the sign. "Dixon Springs State Park." We weren't far from the border between Kentucky and Illinois. "I just have to see it again," I said. What age deletes from my memory, Southern Illinois replaces. Leaving Interstate 24 for a two-lane highway, SAM in the driver's seat, I leaned forward with anticipation. Would I find the place just as I had left it that summer in high school? Of course not! I've been back to it since then, the summer I took a field botany course and learned more about human nature than Nature nature.

Certainly, the contours of the land were the same, not much different there. And silly rules were still posted: a "No Swimming" sign in the very place where swimming would seem most appropriate--the catch-basin for a natural spring.









The cabins were there or at least they were standing. A "Dead End" sign seemed more than appropriate for them now.


The cabins' window-blinds were sagging and wrinkled like the lids on an old woman's eyes--hey, I'm beginning to resemble that remark. No signs of recent life appeared. Still, I thought I heard the ghosts of loud whispers and giggles from girls sneaking over to the boys' cabin in the middle of the night. Rules and raging hormones somehow cannot coexist in the mind of a teenager. Our teacher, Mr. R, surely must have known that nothing short of a barb-wire fence surrounded by punji stakes could separate the girls from the boys at the end of a week-long field trip away from parental supervision. Back then, I guess school authorities and parents giving their permission were fairly naive about such things. Mr. R and his 18-year-old daughter were our only chaperones for the trip.

Nothing "naughty" happened, of course. I think the presence of old church buildings in the park must have made some impression on a group of youngsters raised in the Heartland or Buckle of the Bible Belt. Or it could have been the fact that none of us trusted Mr. R's daughter to keep her mouth shut about our shenanigans. She was nice, but none of us really knew her. We were high school freshmen, and she had just graduated high school. She was officially a "grup" and apparently wise in matters of the heart. She already had a steady boyfriend. We were newbies on that scene.



Considering the present state of Illinois' economy, the park's condition wasn't too shabby. But I did find the lack of signs about the park's history somewhat shameful. Who, for instance, built this wall?

And what was the origin of this ancient well at which SAM is pointing his finger? Was it the foundation of a bath house? The state website link at the beginning of this post indicates that 19th century visitors to the area used to bathe in the mineral springs for health reasons.

Maybe a better question is why don't we utilize our state parks for similar purposes today? Why did traditional forms of therapy such as hydrotherapy and massage therapy fall out of favor with people interested in maintaining good health?


Thank goodness the end of the week-long trip that SAM and I made wasn't plagued by unanswered questions or shrouded by the mists of time and fading memory. We stopped on our way home to visit a gardening friend, one I'm sure that many of my visitors are familiar with: Tina of In the Garden fame.


She and Mr. Fix-It had an answer for every question, a wonderful supper for hungry guests, and warm hospitality for visitors who forgot how cold Tennessee weather can be in early October.








And of course, they had plants to share: asters, irises, cannas, and variegated Miscanthus.


I hope we can repay their kindness someday soon. It's been nearly four years since our last meeting in New Harmony, Indiana. I pray it's not so long until the next one.

Hummingbird on my cold-hardy ginger

12 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

How much fun to have Tina visit! I enjoyed the State Park tour too.

tina said...

Such a sweet post. It was our pleasure to host you and SAM. Come anytime! I mean that too! And we'll be down around your way one day don't you worry. Everytime I look at that miscanthus I think what a bear from now on! Glad they all made it safely to Florida.

The camp was neat. I'd like to know about that rock as well.

Brigitta Huegel said...

Dear Walk2write,
thank you for that post! It is strange to go back to places one has been (or even lived) a long time ago. So strange e.g. to stand before a house where one has lived for years - now one cannot even enter the hallway... Which makes us humble and shows us that other people come after us. Oops - seems to have made me a bit melancholy, the pictures of that parc... but your idea to use the water for spas again is great.
And isn't it good to know there are friends outside, willing to share their plants and receive us so warm and friendly? That thought instantly makes me happy again.

☆sapphire said...

Ooooooh! You and tina sit side by side!! Both of you look great! Thank you so much for sharing the photo with us! It was a happy surprise! I noticed that your leaves were still green just like ours here. I wonder when the leaves there turn color....

Skeeter said...

Poor State Parks are taking a hit with this slow economy. I wish the funds were there for such places as they are learning tools and a way to encourage kids to get into the great outdoors! We were at a nearby State Park a few weeks ago and spotted two small aligator. What a treat to get to see them in the wild verses a zoo...

Tina is such a great hostess in the garden! And enjoys passing fun things along to other gardens as well. Such a great bud...

Ciss B said...

Love the pictures. Looks like a spot to escape and enjoy the quiet of nature!

Julie said...

What an enjoyable trip!!!

Rose said...

Your story of Dixon Springs brought back memories for me, not of that park but another one in Illinois, the place now forgotten, with similar cabins. And the food--I'm not a picky eater at all, but I've never had such lousy food in my life! Ah, but the fun we had.

How wonderful that you were able to visit Tina! We were in Clarksville on our way home from Asheville in May, and I really, really wanted to stop. But my travelling companions and I were all tired, and as it turned out, Tina had family coming in anyway. But one of these days I'm going to pop in on her! I'm sure the two of you had a great time.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi W2W .. great memories - I wonder if they don't renew the park, because everyone goes to Disney or some theme park ... the great outdoors, such a wonderful area.

Sounds like a great trip down memory lane finishing off with a wonderful welcoming visit ..

Cheers Hilary

troutbirder said...

A great trip W2W. And Tina is a sweetheart having provided great garding advice to me for one over the years...:)

LTM said...

What a great looking park! Was that flagstone? And look at you & Tina! Fun times. I love visiting parks and gardens. Looks like you had a wonderful time~ :o) <3

cosmos said...

To see yourself of teens. Cabin's sagging and wrinkled window-blinds with no signs of recent life must've realized you it was long gone. Still memories seem so vivid with giggling sound.
Life is going on and it's so nice you have a wonderful friend to welcome you any time with such a warm hospitality!