Cogitation 37/214 Saturday 14 September 2019 There’s more than the benefit of exercise that makes me happy from spending time out-of-doors.
Regular walks foster a deeper appreciation of the “wide world’s joy.” The quoted phrase comes from Henry Ward Beecher: “The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.” The birds are happy, The trees and flowers and weeds are happy. People we meet and greet on foot are happy. Being close to nature makes me happy. How can I not be happy?
Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) has a good word on happiness: “Thrice happy he who, not mistook, / Hath read in Nature’s mystic book.” I also value this word from Robert Louis Stevenson: “There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.”
Of course, reading a book, sharing a meal, completing a task, gathering with people, tomatoes from Merle Sommer’s garden, watching the University of Notre Dame football team this afternoon, also makes me happy. Still, there’s no substitute for drinking in nature’s own vast ocean of happiness. I’m happy that among my friends and acquaintances I can count birders, walkers, kayakers, sports players, artists, gardeners, picnickers, patio sitters–good people, past and present.
My happiness quotient this week was fed by a variety of experiences, some detailed below.
A walk along the mill race
A week ago we walked from home to the Goshen Dam and then along the mill race trail to the Farmer’s Market. Goshen artists were out in force for the annual Arts on the Race event. There was lots of creativity on display, offered along with food and live music. It was a 7.5 mile day, in gorgeous weather.
Another day we walked from home, through an edge of the Goshen College campus, past Goshen Hospital, to the Goshen Dam, and around the loop through Shoup-Parsons Woods. Sycamore trees below.
Pioneer burial ground
Coming across stories from the past gives me reflective pause and appreciation for those who have gone before.
On the way home from Shoup-Parsons Woods we came across the Dierdorff Cemetery, located on State Road 15 just south of College Mennonite Church. The story of the first burial there tugs at one’s heartstrings.
In the early 1830s, three German Baptist families were travelling with wagons and oxen from Philadelphia to Iowa. They were friends of Peter Dierdorff who also farmed in the Philadelphia area and who would later move with his family to Goshen, Indiana.
One of the German Baptist families recorded the ordeals of their trip: “Our trip was long and hard. . . . Our daughter, aged seven years, was never well, having contracted ‘consumption’ when she was very young. We got as far as one-mile south of the settlement at Goshen, Indiana. In the latter part of June, when our little daughter went into convulsions and died. Being encamped near a small knoll, we asked the settler who owned the land, a Mr. Cripe, if we could bury our little girl there. He said it was alright. So after covering Elizabeth’s grave with wild daisies, we prepared to move on westward. We were advised not to try fording the Elkhart River there: so, we went back to the Benton settlement, recrossed the river there and again headed west.”
Years later, in 1854, Peter Dierdorff and his family set out for Goshen with oxen pulling their wagon. They established the Dierdorff homestead on what is now County Road 27 (Dierdorff Rd). The family cared for the cemetery, established 1838, which was on the land they purchased, and made it available to the public for burial purposes. The family turned the cemetery over to the city after using the remaining monies in the maintenance fund for the stone that now identifies this pioneer cemetery.
The Dierdorff homestead is now owned by Greencroft Goshen, located on the south east side of the Greencroft campus.
“With awe around these silent walks I tread: / These are the lasting mansions of the dead.” George Crabbe (1754-1832)
A walk to breakfast
The day promised to be hot, so we left early for our walk to breakfast (5 miles round-trip) at Goshen Family Restaurant south of the city.
Junk Art Dogs, Nappanee
Dogs fashioned from junk dot the downtown of Nappanee where we had lunch on Thursday. The project was coordinated by The Nappanee Arts Council 2019. Creativity knows no bounds.
The elements show their wonder