The Dune country of northern Indiana is one of the great expressions of wild beauty in our country. They are the greatest expression of this beauty in the middle west. As a type of landscape expression they are unequaled anywhere in the world. They are to us what the Adirondacks and the Catskills are to the eastern people and the Rocky Mountains to our Western friends.
In comparison with the level plains of the middle west their wildness and romance must be measured. They are perhaps less severed and less melancholy than the dune countries of the Atlantic coast or the western coast of France and Denmark. They are more poetical, more free and more joyful, something that appeals more to the average human being and has a greater influence on him than the more severe, colder and overwhelming forms of landscape.
To us who feel the necessity of paying homage to this interesting region they not only charm us with their mysterious character found hidden in their interior in this Dune country, but give us who are packed away amongst stone and mortar of a great city a greater view as it were, into the great out-of-doors. As seen from the tops of ridges of the Dunes few can imagine the wonderful out-look over Lake Michigan, especially at sunset, and the wonderful views of the state of Indiana and the blue haze of the state of Michigan.
From the standpoint of the artist the color expressions of spring and fall are not equaled anywhere. Add to this the movement and the history of the dunes dating back into geological ages hundreds of thousands of years ago. The dunes represent a book of the great out-of-doors that man will never be able to fully comprehend. But it is not the great dramatical things that appeal more to the eye than the more intimate and hidden treasures of the dune country. It is among the sand hills that the real mystery of the dunes is to be found. On the dune meadows, or in the bogs, or the tamarack swamps, or along hidden trails one feels the exquisite beauty and the hidden shrines of nature's great work. Carpets of flowers cover the hills and valleys of the dune country during spring and early summer; in fact, during the entire season.
Here is the lupine that brings the first joy of spring to the visitor; first with its beautiful and hand-like leaves on which the rays of the rising sun has been left, with the dew of the early morning glistening in its palm as millions of diamonds, and later a sea of blue covers the forest floor, and in the late fall we have the same expression in its beautiful leaves as in spring.
Late in fall the gentian cuts its color on the dune meadows, holding out until winter's blast shrivels up the last flower. Astors stand along the trail as so many candles lighting up the way for the pilgrim who has dared into the woods on dark and gloomy fall days, with the wind rustling through the leaves of the trees that have seen generations pass below. One may hear the changing songs of the Red Man, or the cradle song of the Indian squaw when listening to the murmuring waves break over the sandy beach of the Dune country.
Man, indeed, becomes small and insignificant in such environment. He is thankful for being able to enjoy and understand, in a small way at least, this wonderful beauty that lies all about him and he feels grieved that millions have to live and die without knowing anything about it. He thinks about the millions that are growing up and are debarred from this the greatest of all books. He thinks about the necessity of this balance of mind, the need of knowing something about Mother Earth, its great beauty, its mysterious life and never-ending change, and no one needs it more than those who grind their lives away in our mills, our factories, our shops and our stores. The man in the factory who turns out the same kind of work every day during his life needs something as a balance, something that will make his work more endurable, more cheerful; something that will broaden out his vision and save him or his descendants from the destruction sure to come. The people of the mills, the shops and the stores are the backbone of the great cities. They are the producers of work and the human species, and the opportunity for these people to get the full value of the out-of-doors is almost made impossible.
Posted 29th June; last updated 9th July, 2001.