The month of May is just about the best time to drive through the country (in the Northern Hemisphere). The trees are dazzling -- petals and seeds blanket the sidewalks, new leaves shine with hues of yellow, red and light green that you don't see in summer or fall. City folks garden, surburbanites mow giant lawns on riding mowers, and farmers are Dogwood in bloom doing real work -- plowing and fertilizing and planting their crops. Farm machines just keep getting bigger -- no doubt that is a major attraction of the agricultural career, especially to youngsters.
Not all farmers drive tractors. In northern Indiana, we noticed Amish horse-drawn Amish farming, northern Indiana buggies along the roads and parked in town, near doctors' offices. No two buggies seemed alike -- probably a lot of them are home-made. We kept swivelling our heads and finally were rewarded with sights of the farmers expertly working their teams of eight horses as they plowed the black earth. The Amish seem prosperous, not only because they are frugal, but because there's Highland cattle a large market for Amish crafts. We happened to drive through Shipshewana, Indiana -- the entire town is a shoppers' nucleus of Amish furniture, food, and quilt stores.
Spring is also lambing and calving and foaling time, giving us wonderful views of critters. In addition to the expected cattle and horses, we found several farms Sign for Dig's Diner where the pigs were allowed outdoors, and quite a few goats. Most unexpected were long-haired Highland cattle with their soft round muzzles and great outstretched horns.
In Warsaw, Indiana, we stopped for lunch at Dig's Diner, attracted by the portrayal of Dig himself on the street sign. Inside, we found Dig, shaped just the same as his Window of Dig's Diner likeness, presiding at the grill. As each order was ready, he would holler out to the waitress in a voice like a fog horn. We ordered chili. "Mild or hot?" the waitress asked. "Hot", we replied. In a few moment we heard Dig ask, "Has he been here before?" The waitress brought a small dish of chili and a spoon. After one bite, we changed our order to "mild". As we left, we noticed the decorated front window. Little tongues Rotunda in Marshall of flame spring from the top of the bowl of chili.
Marshall, Michigan, is a little gem. At one time it hankered to be the state capital, but lost out to Lansing. But it has streets full of fine old Victorian mansions, a town hall made out of a restored stone barn, and a classical white rotunda in the middle of the big traffic circle.
East of the Mississippi we seldom have trouble finding new roads to travel; we are always surprised and pleased by the sights we find, especially those that aren't mentioned in any of the guidebooks.