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Back Home Indiana: An Essay by Returning Artist, Mychael Lee.

Like myself, our guest contributor, Mychael Lee, has recently journeyed “Back Home Indiana” and has been rediscovering his native Hoosierland.

I’ve known Mychael through many moons, many seasons and phases, and now, even, a couple decades. Mychael has ventured out to the forests and mountains and deserts and oceans of our country to cultivate something special to bring back to our cozy little farm land, appreciation. As Nelson Mandela once said, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the way in which you yourself have altered.”

Mychael Lee:

I find myself living in an ambiguous area between St. Joseph and Marshall counties now. Farm country. My studio is on one of those farms, tucked into a sizable island of massive oak trees that is surrounded on all sides by corn. A wall of it. It’s a place where you don’t really need to build a fence because you have that wall of corn. And while we really ought to, Indiana doesn’t have a town called Cornwall.

1 Cornwall[18]

There are no mountains nearby.  There is no ocean nearby.  There is a city and a river an hour’s bike ride north.  On a quiet back road…it’s awesome (I’m a cyclist).  But it usually takes me longer because I get so distracted by all the tiny moments happening around me.  Beautiful, necessary moments.

2 Mowing-1[8]

It’s a slower pace here, but some things happen too fast to capture in a photo; like the two rabbits that leapt from the grass onto the road and ran concentric figure-eights in front of me before disappearing back into that grass.  Luckily some of the critters aren’t in such a damn hurry.

3 Katydid[8]

I don’t know which has more Indiana Sexy…the katydid, or the cicada:

4 Green Cicada[9]

There’s such an abundance of wildlife…still, after we’ve done so much damage to the land with farming and agriculture.  Just on this farm alone I’ve seen snakes, deer, squirrels, crows and ravens, hawks, turkey vultures, feral cats, bats, robins, bluebirds, toads, big insects…and elsewhere gophers and rabbits and turkeys and on and on.  There’s always something going on somewhere.  I find a lot of inspiration.  Riding along these back roads in the mists of sunrise is an amazing way to wake up.

5 Misty Morning Canal[9]

If the time is right, and you’re standing in the right place facing the right direction, you can find pathways to magical places.  And that’s no exaggeration.  When I take the time to acknowledge where I am, I receive these experiences.  The two bumblebees wrestling and falling out of a chicory flower; the paper wasp that is slowly eating the guard rail, but doing it so fast I can barely see him; the shaft of light leading to this primrose.

6 Primrose[8]

I love riding along these roads, but it’s the farms they lead to that are the real treat.  It’s a vibrant and fertile place.  You can grow some damn good food in this soil, and that is seriously sexy.

7 Tomato[8]

About Mychael Lee:  Mychael just moved back to Small Town, IN after twenty years away.  He is a native Hoosier that bought a ticket out to spend his formative years skulking around the countryside, honing learned skills and learning new ones.  He is an artist and an illustrator.  He is a musician and a writer.  He likes to take photos sometimes too.  He is an herbalist and wild-food-smith.  Under the right moon, he is a fire dancer.  He is a morning runner and an afternoon yogi.  And any time is tea time, if the leaves are fine enough.  He owns a great pair of shoes, but if it’s too far to walk he rides his bike there. To see more of Mychael’s art, please visit MychaelLee.com

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