Cleaner water, thanks a million

Post 11/2021 Friday 12 March . . . I’m drawn to water. I’ve lived next to it. Vacationed near it. Gotten sick on board ship. Oh, the memory: In 1964, even on the calmest day crossing the Atlantic on the Castle Felice, I fed my breakfast to the fish. Returning home, after a volunteer year abroad, I spent half of the seven-day voyage in my windowless bunk, recovering from seasickness. I love water, I just don’t want to be so deathly sick again. Thankfully, I’ve learned to take such embarkations in stride, with a pill, and a nap if the going gets rough.

This week, a brief excursion–by car–south to the neighboring town of Syracuse in Kosciusko County added new awareness, and appreciation, for what’s being done in watershed management. The town is home to two lakes, Syracuse Lake and Lake Wawasee. Wawasee, with a surface area of 3,005 acres, is Indiana’s largest natural lake. Syracuse Lake has a surface area of 411 acres. They are part of a watershed of 24,498 acres.

The Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation is Johnnie-on-the-spot active “to protect, preserve and enhance the Wawasee Area Watershed now and for the future.” Locals refer to it by spelling out its initials, WACF. Check out We took a walk on one of their 49 properties where they work to protect the tributaries, wetlands, woodlands, streams, and lakes in their watershed.

The Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams, based at Grace College in the county seat, Warsaw, in 2020 produced a data summary report, Beneath the Surface, that covers 14 lakes in the county, completed over three summers. It reveals excellent work done by students and faculty, in collaboration with other entities. The report helps one “investigate and clarify the complex relationships between land, water and living organisms.” The Center’s efforts encompass those in kindergarten through retirement. “Due to the Lilly Center’s diligent, strategic work, the lakes and steams in Kosciusko County are some of the best-studied in the state of Indiana.”

Syracuse draws people from far and wide, swelling the population from about 3,000 year-round residents to 20,000 as the part-time lake residents return for the summer season. The Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce says the “area is a developing and ever-changing community that blends a progressive, diverse economy with country charm and midwestern friendliness.” As one might guess, building and servicing boats are big parts of local industry.

The Oakwood Inn

We spent two nights at the Oakwood Inn on Lake Wawasee. We arrived on Monday, parked the car, navigated the area on foot, drove the 30 minutes home on Wednesday. It was a totally restful, renewing three days, so very close to home.

Come, stroll along via a photographic route.

Fair warning on the road that leads to The Oakwood Inn. And sage advice for a slow-me-down stay.

Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation

Entrance to the boardwalk over the Conklin Bay Wetlands on the south end of Lake Wawasee.
Note the red line. It denotes the north-south continental divide.

One of the continental divides. Right here, along the south side of Lake Wawasee, a zig zagging red line denotes the Saint Lawrence River Divide. According to Wikipedia, this continental divide in central and eastern North America separates the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin from the southerly Atlantic Ocean watersheds.

Wikipedia: “Water, including rainfall and snowfall, lakes, rivers and streams, north and west of the divide, drains into the Gulf of St. Lawrence or the Labrador Sea; water south and east of the divide drains into the Atlantic Ocean (east of the Eastern Continental Divide, ECD) or Gulf of Mexico (west of the ECD). The divide is one of six continental divides in North America that demarcate several watersheds that flow to different gulfs, seas or oceans.”

So, some of the water in Kosciusko County flows north and east through the Great Lakes into the St. Lawrence River Basin and some flows south and east into the Atlantic Ocean east of the Eastern Continental Divide. It makes one’s head spin. I must have missed that geography class. No matter, the wonders of the natural world greet you every day right outside your door or window, if you “wanna see.”

Oakwood Inn

The Pier & Back Porch Restaurant is currently open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Our dinner Tuesday evening was one we happily lingered over.
Pictured from our room, the sunrise over Lake Wawasee.

Syracuse-Wawasee Historical Museum

Sheldon Harkless built an automobile in his machine shop in 1905, then produced by the Mier Carriage Company of nearby Ligonier. Between 10 and 20 vehicles were built during a two-year period. A Meir car is the centerpiece of the museum, located at the Syracuse Community Center.
Ah, yes, the days of ice cut from lakes and rivers, preserved in sawdust, and used in an iceboxes. My parents and grandparents told those stories, with some of the ice used to make hand-cranked homemade ice cream. In the grocery store the other day I head a man suggest to his wife that they should get some ice cream. “We have ice cream at home,” she said. “But where is it?” he questioned, as they moved out of earshot. .

A family memorial garden

A private family memory garden contains various memorials, this one in memory of a teacher. We came across the garden on our walk Monday evening to find a restaurant open for dinner–a rarity on a Monday. We ended up at Pizza King, sharing a tasty Stromboli sandwich and salads.

Goodness surrounds us

I’m impressed by individuals, young and old, especially the young; organizations; communities; businesses; schools; and religious bodies that are environmentally engaged in learning about and managing finite resources to maintain a clean, healthy, safe and beautiful world. They’re racing against time to right what’s harming the natural world, as well as others tending to the fissures of humankind. We’re all part of it.

The good news is that we can take time to relax, as leisurely as a waltz,–virtually or actual–to enjoy the goodness all around us. Thanks a million to the people of Syracuse-Wawasee, past and present, and the 77,000-plus residents of Kosciusko County, for the welcome to be and do.


8 thoughts on “Cleaner water, thanks a million

  1. John,

    What a wonderful news story about the water conservancy program and also what a wonderful trip down memory lane. Thank you. Stanley K


    1. Thank you, Stanley. You know this area well, on water and on land. Keep enjoying the same and the grand skies where you are. I imagine you’ve got your garden well underway. I’ll look for an antiphon on “O Radishes.”


  2. Good to see that you are able to do a little traveling now. The Syracuse/Wawasee area sounds very interesting and historical! Didn’t know about the Continental Divide of the watersheds in that area.


  3. Another Bender Blog to file away for future reference… Thank you!
    Looking forward to an Oakwood outing and Conklin Bay Wetlands


    1. Thanks, Laurene. We imagine you enjoying lots of reading these days. It will be super when we can get together and compare notes. Best!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.