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From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
I was born in Northwest Indiana, the industrial region of the state bordering Lake Michigan and along the east side of Chicago. I spent the first five years of my life in a small neighborhood in East Chicago one block away from Youngstown Steel and across the street from American Steel. You might say that the air we breathed was rich in iron.
When I was five my family moved to a working-class town eight miles south of the mills. Back then working class meant steady work for dad, union pay, and healthcare. The schools were excellent. Looking back, in the context of the time, we were pretty privileged kids. My wife and I left there nearly fifty years ago.
This past year I decided to move back to the region (“The Region” is the name the farmers in the rest of Indiana dismissively call our industrial area), and by some quirk my wife and I happened upon a home on a small lake adjacent to a nature preserve which we were lucky enough to buy.
The Nature Preserve
We live next to the Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve which was dedicated in 1977. As suburbs and ancillary small industry spread through Lake County, the wet, sandy soil, small ponds and lake saved it from being developed just long enough for its value to be recognized and saved. The preserve consists of nearly 2,000 acres – land put aside to save some of the last unique biodiversity of the Indiana prairie, preserving 350 uncommon or native species of plants. There is just one trail through part of the park, the rest is left to nature. I like the idea of these small put-asides and wonder how many of them there are in the country.
The small eleven-acre lake is at the edge of the Nature Preserve. I fished here as a boy when it was completely surrounded by prairie. About three-quarters of the lake extends into the preserve. A clever local developer deepened the lake and put a concrete embankment around the edge. The lake has a well and water is pumped in if the water level gets to low, and is attached to storm drains for when the level gets too high.
Our new house is a nice split level. The lakeside back wall has windows or a sliding glass door. Most of the pictures that follow were taken from inside the house.
It Snowed the night we moved in. The next morning we received our first visitor – a beautiful and curious young doe.
During the winter the deer came out mostly at night. They seemed to like the grass in my backyard. They disappeared in spring, I assume to have their babies. Just this past week (the end of July) I saw a group of them again out back with a couple of young fawns now old enough to visit the neighbors. I missed getting their picture.
When the ice clears 5” in depth, ice skating is allowed. The kids on the lake get on their skates and sometimes a hockey game breaks out.
We had two geese hanging out in our backyard in March. We named them George and Gracie. They were fun to watch, but we soon learned that they are like cleaning up after about four fifty-pound dogs. They disappeared later in the month. We heard that someone had shot one of the geese and we were afraid it was Gracie – but she and George show up again with young ones in tow
I promised Raven that I would show him a top blue gill fisherman the next time I posted about our home on the lake. Here he is. This is Jake, a Great Gray Heron who, if you get up early enough in the morning, can often see fishing in our back yard. I see some people fishing here, but none as successful as Jake. The morning I took these pictures he caught two nice bluegill in about five minutes.
Breakfast for Jake