I walked along the sidewalk, kicking up leaves as I went.
“Swoosh. Swoosh. Swoosh.”
The leaves were six inches thick. Their swooshing sound was all I heard on this quiet street in this quaint little town on a Sunday afternoon.
I had just walked through the downtown, three blocks of stores that looked like they hadn’t changed in 100 years. A distant relative owned a doll shop here. Antiques. Coffee. A pharmacy.
Next came several blocks of homes, some with wrap-around front porches and wicker chairs. Then a rest home “for women.” A few blocks later, and I came to the park. This was the place where the huge trees had dropped a blanket of leaves on the sidewalk. The park was a paradise of play equipment, but no children in sight. Just the sound of the leaves brushing between my feet.
I was headed to the Labyrinth. It was a circuitous path through tall hedges leading to a domed building in the center. It was meant to be a place of quiet reflection.
Around and around I went. The sticky bushes were snagging my sweater. I thought about the perfect weather. It was starting to get cold at home. I would have needed a coat. I thought about the bright blue sky. And the moon so bright in the afternoon sky.
Not another person in sight, I wondered how long it would take me to wind my way through this maze and if anyone would see my head above the shrubs if they came looking.
I was mostly intrigued by the people who created this place in southern Indiana. A group of people known as the Harmony Society settled here in 1814 with the goal of creating a utopian community. They attempted to live as a communal society, sharing income from a spinning factory, vineyards and a winery. Although the experiment failed after just a few years, the town they created, New Harmony, became known as a center for advances in education and scientific research.
I grew up about an hour away, but this was my first time visiting this fascinating little town. We had a family lunch at a wonderful restaurant, and then I went for a walk to explore the unusual sites. Around the main hotel, people walked down the middle of the street or drove golf carts. It seemed like most of the people were tourists, which seemed so odd out here in the middle of nowhere.
With the perfect weather, the bright sunshine and the people just milling about, I felt like it would be perfectly normal to hear someone shout, “Good morning, Truman!”
I wondered what it would be like to attend a service at the roofless church.
These huge wooden doors greeted visitors to a large grassy courtyard with a large dome in the middle.
A few blocks away was the Atheneum. This modern white building is a museum telling the story of the town’s history. It seemed so out of place with nothing around it but an old wooden fence. Across the street, in sharp contrast, sat the rustic log homes of the people who had settled this town.
I felt like I didn’t have nearly enough time to explore this little town.
Its quaint churches, homes and shops.
The meditative garden and walking trails.
And peaceful streets. They are already calling me back for another visit!

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