Fathers Day at Spring Mill; a day of memories with the Dalai Lama

Sunday Morning Nature Missive - June 26, 2016

While not much has happened naturewise since Gary and I returned from the Ohio River waterfalls nearly three weeks ago, I captured a handful of nature shots during a Fathers Day Family Hike at Spring Mill State Park last Sunday and posted a small Photo Album. And, culminating with a return to the Indianapolis Coliseum for an afternoon of Compassion with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Saturday, life off trail has been among the more eventful in recent memory.

Spring Mill wasn't a Photo Hike per se, but I put the fam cam to good use during hikes through the Donaldson's Woods Nature Preserve and along the waterfall below Hamer Cave just upstream from the Pioneer Village. Donaldson's Woods may be only the third largest stand of virgin woods in Indiana, but I think it's the most impressive. And like the other two biggies -- Wesselman's Woods in Evansville and Pioneer Mothers a half hour south just outside Paoli -- it sports a colorful history.

The woods was known as Shawnee Cottage when the wealthy, eccentric Scotsman named George Donaldson, who was bribed out of prison by his father and put on a ship to America in the 1860s, landed in Lawrence County. That he was imprisoned and his father paid his way out is historical fact. That he was jailed for murder is a legend unproved. (I once wrote a story on Donaldson's life forTraces, the Indiana Historical Society's magazine.)

Shawnee was one of four properties Donaldson owned in North America and included the Donaldson's Cave. A big-game hunter who allowed no logging or hunting on his Indiana property, he died in the early 1900s without a will. His Indiana holdings passed first to Indiana University and then to Indiana's fledgling state park system in 1927.

Hamer Cave is named after the Hamer brothers, who bought the Spring Mill Village in 1832.

While most of the off-trail news isn't apropos for this blog, I did spend Saturday with the first Nobel Prize winner for his work on global environmental concerns. And the Dalai Lama's talk was co-sponsored by the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, which is headquartered in the same building as the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter's office across from the Indianapolis Art Center.

His focus was on compassion, but a lot of mine throughout the day was on the past, as the Coliseum is central to a mind full of memories, most of them musical. For example, I saw Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, with Brian Jones there in the 60s.

I told my friend Michael, who saw Hendrix with me, that Saturday could very well have been the 50th anniversary of my first musical concert with the Beach Boys. When I got home I discovered that it actually was the 51st anniversary. My cousin took me to see them on June 25, 1965.

Talk about a day of memories.

Photographs: Top, Left, Spring Mill State Park; Bottom, Dalai Lama, Public Talk in Indianapolis.


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