Putnam County musing, truly a thing of beauty

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Today's topic is a real beauty.

So go ahead, pick your favorite related axiom ...

One man's trash is another man's treasure? ... That's fine, unless you're the trashman.

Beauty is truth, truth is beauty? ... Maybe so, if you're checking out a Grecian urn there, Keats.

Beauty is only skin deep? ... Tough to disagree with such logic but that old philosopher Redd Foxx puts up a pretty good argument with his timeless remark, "Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone."

Truly though, from our vantagepoint, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

And we have Putnam County residents to thank for reinforcing that the other evening.

Promised a free Starbucks coffee from Eli's Books for filling out a card determining "the most beautiful place in Putnam County," locals and DePauw University students alike shared their thoughts -- some definitely caffeine-induced and others totally decaffeinated.

It was all part of a cozy performance by Fifth House Ensemble, the imaginative Chicago-based chamber music group now in residence among us, beginning an eight-month process of preparing a tribute to Putnam County.

Incidentally, we have programs director Anna Cooksey and the DPU School of Music to thank for assembling those many and varied responses.

Some answers were nicely fueled by simple pleasures.

"The view from my front porch" came one rejoinder. Not mine, incidentally. All I see at present is dust and chewed-up asphalt.

"The drive out West Walnut Street Road in the fall of the year" offered another. Beautiful sure, until an oncoming vehicle rounds the curve on your side. Admire those fall colors but keep your eyes on the road.

"Any spot along Big Walnut Creek when you can get down to the water's edge, find just the right rock, and try your best to skip it to the opposite side." Nice. Serene. Welcoming.

The beautiful and enriching DePauw Nature Park or the Prindle Institute, in one form or another, was mentioned about a dozen times.

"The Nature Park, at the overlook where you can see the whole park. I always jog to that spot as a destination," provided one visitor.

Another included, "Looking out of the reflection center during yoga, toward the quarry and through the trees, it looks like a lakeshore in Wisconsin." Why am I suddenly craving cheese and brats?

Another mentioned being atop one of the many hillsides at Windy Hill Country Club, "looking back into Greencastle and seeing the courthouse dome and the steeple at East College." Usually I'm in the valleys, looking at double-bogeys.

Covered bridges were a popular reply. Then again, 'tis the season.

For example, "The view looking out from Boone-Hutcheson Cemetery (at Houck Bridge) is incredible," offered one response.

"Watching the setting sun by the Dunbar Covered Bridge with the countryside in the background" said another, painting more local pictures with choice words.

Baker's Camp Covered Bridge, Pine Bluff Covered Bridge, Fern Cliff, Robe-Ann Park, Thomas Lake, Clinton Falls ("a beautiful intersection of water and rock") also earned high marks. As did a variety of farm locations and the countryside in general.

The view of East College through the new DePauw campus entrance on Anderson Street (post-gates, of course) got a couple responses as well as the DPU campus in general.

Overall, as one writer allowed, "Putnam County is a surprise because there are so many beautiful places."

Now the Fifth House Ensemble will take your comments and incorporate some of them into an innovative new work to celebrate the heritage of our region.

Throughout the year, we can expect to find the group around town, seeking out inspiration while gathering photos and stories for a project that will culminate in a premiere performance of "Harvest" on Mother's Day (May 11) at DPU.

And my choice for the most beautiful spot in Putnam County? Why, I thought you'd never ask.

It's an easy decision: The view from my office window, high above the downtown, overlooking the courthouse and the activity in our midst.

It's pretty sweet. At least that's how my eyes behold it.