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21 My fears about a racing-­ stable absentee husband began to dissipate. In the first year of our marriage, Kenneth began necessary improvements to the Laboratory residence and purchased a large portion of Robert Owen’s original holdings, rolling farmlands that culminated in the highest point on the Wabash River for many miles, a rise known as Indian Mound (see area map). Archaeologists called it a midden, a deposit containing refuse indicative of an early human settlement; this one was created with mussel shells discarded by prehistoric Native Americans. But generations of townspeople had other names and softer feelings for this ageless place. Indian Mound became for Kenneth and me (and later our three daughters) a refuge from the rattle of trucks along Church Street, heat, and concerns. The greatest reward for climbing that far, however, was the expansive view of Cut-Off Island, belonging half to Indiana and half to the nearby fertile, flat plains of Illinois, still innocent of factories and housing developments on the other bank of the Wabash (see area map).1 ChaptER 2 Indian Mound 22 New Harmony, indiana Kenneth planned to grow corn and soybeans on his newly acquired Indian Mound Farm and sought expertise from members of Purdue’s agricultural department concerning how best to reinvigorate the land that had lain fallow for many years (see area map). As a young boy, he had picked corn on the gentry farm on the Old Plank Road for a dollar a day. His agricultural instincts ­ were sound, but he needed professional advice. Fences would be built and hay sown before purebred Herefords could graze on ­well-­seeded fields. Heeding Louis Bromfield’s advice that the best manure is the own­ er’s foot tracks, we headed for the farm soon after our return to New Harmony from Houston in the late spring of 1942.2 I was several months pregnant with our first child and eager to have the unborn Owen accompany us on our excursions to Indian Mound. We passed Sled Hill, so called because it is steep enough for sledding in winter, which I’ve done by starlight (see area map). We walked beyond the dairy barn and continued through catalpa trees, which showered us with ­ orchid-­ like blossoms, to reach the broad back of the hallowed mound. The sound of whirling blades assaulted our ears. A small but deadly machine, like an armored knight, was waging war against my husband’s invasive enemies, the thorn trees that grew on land intended for pasture. The stump remover was winning the battle, and Kenneth was buoyant. What­ever hindered the best use of the land was abhorrent to him, a splinter in his flesh, for land to my husband was what it had been to the Woodland Indians, his other body. He grinned broadly, having slain his dragons for the day. Regaining our breath after the brief climb and filling our lungs with the ­clover-­fragrant air, he turned to me, for I had lagged behind. “I don’t know how you feel about Indian Mound, but I know that we don’t really own it. Time does. Let’s never build ­here or allow a paved road to come anywhere near.” “I love you, Kenneth, for thinking this way. We’ll let nothing rob eternity of its foothold on this place. Unless ​. ​. ​. ​,” I added timidly. “Unless what?” came his ­no-­nonsense reply. I became silent because unpredictable emotions ­were rising from many leagues below the level of my conscious mind, claiming my complete attention. Abraham, patriarch of our Jewish-Christian-Muslim faith, a historical figure whom I was not expecting, seemed to have a message for me. Indian Mound 23 Although not a biblical scholar, I was familiar enough with the Book of Genesis to know that I could not easily brush Abraham aside. I was remembering that the old patriarch had dutifully changed his name from Abram to Abraham, a sign that the mission of his life included more than he had previously realized. The God whom he worshiped had said: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s ­ house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Gen. 12:1).3 As a young bride, I had changed my name, and as a social malcontent, I had yearned for a new country and a new way of life. In obedience to his Lord, Abram had “removed from thence unto a mountain on the east...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253016638
Related ISBN
9780253016249
MARC Record
OCLC
903357020
Pages
400
Launched on MUSE
2015-03-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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