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If My Hands Could Look Like Hers

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Honey Hodges:  I feel like I'm getting to the age where I'm like, "Oh, I can chastise my mom." [LAUGHS] I can be like, "You're working a little bit too much aren't you? What about your friends? Why aren't you hanging out with your friends? Like, why don't you go see a movie? What's the thing you like to do? Like, join a club." And she just rolls her eyes and I'm like, "This is stuff you say to me. [LAUGHS]

Alex Chambers:  Honey Hodges came to the U.S. with their mom when they were three, their mom has always taken care of them.

Honey Hodges:  I am kind of relishing easing into the role of taking care her.

Alex Chambers:  How the tables turn. And then, our conversation about the autumn of one's life and the winter of the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun. That's coming up on Inner States, right after this.

Honey Hodges:  It's almost always a safe assumption, if someone says that they're my cousin, I'm going to believe them. I'm going to be like, "Yeah, sounds right.

Alex Chambers:  Honey Hodges, has a big family.

Honey Hodges:  Just on my mom's side of the family, I have roughly 19 aunts and uncles. On my dad's side, I think five or six, significantly smaller, but not small by western standards.

Alex Chambers:  Honey was born in Liberia and came to the U.S. when they were young, but their family's all over the place.

Honey Hodges:  I have family in Australia, and France and, of course, back home in Africa, west coast. Pretty much everywhere in the States it's like, all my aunts and uncles had three to five kids each [LAUGHS] so, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Alex Chambers:  But they grew up in a small household. It was just Honey and their mom. And that meant they really depended on each other. Honey says their mom devoted every waking hour to making sure her child had what they needed to be a successful American. When she wasn't putting her energy toward her child, she's putting it toward her community. Now that Honey is an adult, they feel like it's time for their mom to slow down. Honey wants to take care of her. But when you're used to be the one to take care of people, it's hard to accept help, like, when Honey tries to do the laundry.

Honey Hodges:  She thinks I do it entirely wrong. And I'm like, "Well, you've been making me do my laundry since I was nine, so."

Alex Chambers:  I met Honey because they were selling collages at a local art festival. A month or two later, we took a walk along a very hilly trail in the woods and talked about having family so far apart, the mysterious ways African's and the diasporan know what country each other is from, and why they hope someday their hands will look as worn as their mothers.

Alex Chambers:  This is Inner States, by the way. I'm Alex Chambers. When Honey came to the U.S. at the age of three, Liberia was in the midst of a civil war.

Honey Hodges:  A lot of people think I would not remember anything, but I think most of it was stuff that was hard to forget. Just like, sirens going off, family being taken, just loud noises all the time.

Alex Chambers:  Family being taken?

Honey Hodges:  If you were suspected of being a rebel, you could be taken in for questioning, which had happened to some of my family before. They were, of course, not conspiring with the rebels and were released at the time, but I didn't know all of this.

Alex Chambers:  They came in the spring, about 20 years ago, just Honey and their mom. It was expensive for anyone, but cheaper for women and children so they figured their father and brother would come over a few months later. The plans were all set, they even had a date; September 12th, 2001.

Alex Chambers:  Honey and their mom had applied as refugees.

Honey Hodges:  Which we were.

Alex Chambers:  But after September 11th...

Honey Hodges:  Immigration was just so incredibly difficult.

Alex Chambers:  ...their father and brother didn't make it in.

Honey Hodges:  And it just led to decades at this point of us trying to find a way for them to come to the States.

Alex Chambers:  20 years later, they have yet to figure it out.

Honey Hodges:  My brother has come to the States a couple of times on scholarships. He's seven years older than me, very, very accomplished. He has set up lots of organizations in Liberia, focused on sexual health of young Liberians, as well as safety an accessible education, which these are things that are not talked about regularly there. But, even with that, even with education, it doesn't happen very often. So yeah, we've grown up apart our whole lives.

Alex Chambers:  How do you feel about that?

Honey Hodges:  Sometimes I do feel like I've missed out on a lot. A few times we have met, [LAUGHS] he's definitely tried to be a big brother and I'm like, "Okay, I'm kind of like an adult now. [LAUGHS] I think my freshman year of college he's like, "You need to focus on your studies and not worry about dating." And I'm like, "That's okay, thanks. [LAUGHS] That's what I've been doing, thanks." [LAUGHS] And he's like, "Whenever you go to a job interview..." And I was like, "I have a job." [LAUGHS] I was like, "Yeah, you might not know this, but I've been employed for a couple of years ago now." He's like, "Oh, okay, yeah."

Alex Chambers:  And can I ask about your dad too? What it was like having your dad not here?

Honey Hodges:  I guess another instance of I don't entirely know what I've missed out on. Of course, my mom's played both the roles, and while I have not always been appreciative, because I, of course, was a teenager, [LAUGHS] I am so grateful for my mom even more now. I appreciate my dad, but the way life is back in Liberia, he has not been able to be as present or be as helpful as I know he would like. And so there's definitely more distance than ever possibly could have been created organically.

Alex Chambers:  What do you mean by the way life is in Liberia?

Honey Hodges:  It's certainly, in a lot of ways a crumbling nation, I would say, from my outside experience. Jobs are incredibly hard to come by, things are expensive and not accessible. Both my parents went to college for some time and my dad worked in tech, which in the early 2000s was huge and it's even bigger now, but not to say that he wasn't capable, just that a lot of times the citizens in Liberia are taken advantage of without being taken care of. And so that just makes every day so much harder when you're worrying about yourself. And so, yeah, I feel for him, I feel for them. All my mom's time here in the States has been focused on making sure I am a functioning adult that can take care of myself here. And also, that whenever she works, she helps them back home, building homes or sending a generator or making sure everybody has beds.

Alex Chambers:  What do you think it was like for her, or know about what it was like for her to get over here with the expectation that your dad and brother would be here soon, and then suddenly find out that who knows when it would be and just continue to have it never happen?

Honey Hodges:  It's hard to know because she's an incredibly private person, even with me, even with family. It's been a little bit frustrating in our relationship just that the expectations of a parent here in the States, and your relationship with a parent here in the States is very different from the immigrant experience, of course. Child and parent are not close, you're not sharing things emotionally. You're doing a lot of times, the basics of taking care of them, making sure that they're going to school. She's making sure that I'm being enriched in clubs and things that aren't as accessible here financially, maybe, as it would be back home, but it is like she doesn't have hardly the time to talk about it, which I did not think about growing up. I definitely took that for granted and I know that sometimes she really regrets it.

Honey Hodges:  She has a very young face, I would say. But her hands, I feel really tell her age which is common for people, but she just works so hard. They might not be beautiful hands, but I always get so teared up thinking about it because even if she can't be verbal, what she's been going through, I think just seeing her hands and knowing that she's going to always be there to take care of me is enough.

Honey Hodges:  If my hands can look like hers halfway through my life, I think I can be satisfied with who I've become as a person. Someone who cares for others, provides for others, in a way that might initially go unnoticed or unappreciated, but has long term effects.

Honey Hodges:  When we first came to the States, she had a very difficult time finding a job in what she used to do which, she used to be a nanny, but she also was a foreign language teacher in the schools, the elementary schools. We had a lot of international students like French or German students that she would take care of and she would teach the language, both English and French. A dialect of French is the language of Liberia. Translators are very respected, I think, but that's not something she can get a job in here in the States without certification.

Honey Hodges:  Initially, she worked in a nursing home, then she worked at Kook. She's worked at Kook for I don't know, 16, 15 years, maybe on and off in all sorts of different departments and over the years, her hands have gotten very gnarled. She has arthritis in both hands. She has burns or cuts or scrapes she's gotten from putting a lot of the medical devices together. She [LAUGHS] does not know how to take a moment to not work. I feel like she's the kind of person who's working in her sleep.

Honey Hodges:  I feel like I'm getting to the age where I'm like, "Oh, I can chastise my mom. [LAUGHS] I can be like, "You're working a little too much, aren't you? What about your friends? Why aren't you hanging out with your friends? Like, why don't you go see a movie? What's the thing you like to do? Like, join a club." And she just rolls her eyes and I'm like, "This is stuff you say to me. [LAUGHS] I am kind of relishing easing into the role of taking care of her.

Alex Chambers:  They live pretty close to their mom so they'll go over and say, "Hey, you bought this shelf, you want me to build it for you? Sell this on Facebook marketplace, clear out your laundry?"

Honey Hodges:  Which she hates when I do that because she doesn't like the way I do laundry. [LAUGHS] She never liked that I would put the detergent on top of the clothes, which I know is technically wrong, but my clothes are fine [LAUGHS] and they've lasted this long, nothing's falling apart. She also doesn't like that I don't separate to the degree that she would like. Like, the darks from the lights, she doesn't like that. I'm like, "I did separate it." And she's like, "But this is like a burnt orange and this should go." And I'm like, "I don't care about that." [LAUGHS] It's like, "I'm just here to use your washer." [LAUGHS] She doesn't like the way I do dishes either, which I have no clue what it is. I have no clue. She just doesn't like it.

Honey Hodges:  I just think that she's lived so long, taking care of others that she's not entirely sure what to do when other people take care of her.

Alex Chambers:  Speaking of taking care of things, we need to take care of some station business, we'll be right back.

Alex Chambers:  Welcome back to Inner States, I'm Alex Chambers. I went on a walk with Honey Hodges last fall, they're a new American citizen but they've spent most of their life here in the States. They came here from Liberia at the age of three and that meant they spent their teens here in Bloomington. When you're a teenager, disagreeing with your parents is kind of your job. Also, sorting out which of their traditions you want to keep, and, you know, rebelling against the ones you don't. Honey was raised in the church, but they're no long Christian. I think it's also that they're more American than their mom. It means they don't understand their mom sometimes, now that they too are an adult.

Honey Hodges:  Sometimes I'll be like, "Oh, why didn't get your money back about this?" Or like, "Why'd you borrow so much to this person?" Or, "Why did you send this much back, you need to take care of yourself." And I'm like, "When are you going to be helped back?" And she's like, "I don't care. I don't care." I think it's a combination of her religion and of non-western upbringing as a collective rather than an individual.

Alex Chambers:  It's also that Honey grew up in the U.S., they can't help it, they're also more American than their mother. Which means this uncanny ability Africans have when they meet each other beyond the continent, It's something their mother can do, but for Honey, it's a mystery.

Honey Hodges:  A lot of Africans can recognize each other on sight, regionally. And accent wise, I never got the hang of it. I can definitely recognize someone who's African. There's definitely a different look to someone who's African rather than African American. But I've not nailed the regional thing. [LAUGHS] But we'll be in an airport in Philadelphia or something, and my mom will be in baggage claim and she'll look over and be like, "Are you from Uganda?" And they'll be like, "Yeah." "Liberia?" And she'll be like, "Yeah." And I'm, of course, mystified [LAUGHS] how they've managed that without talking.

Honey Hodges:  It's definitely in the eyes, the way you walk, or especially the way you purse your lips. I don't even know how to explain it, there's definitely something in the eye and mouth that just like, very specific.

Alex Chambers:  Do you think you carry that at all, having grown up here?

Honey Hodges:  I'm not good at identifying, but I have been identified by a neighbor [LAUGHS] who's like, "Oh, you look like a Liberian girl." And I'm like, "Okay, yeah. [LAUGHS] How'd you know that?" It does feel like someone reached out an grabbed me, and there's just a long line that people behind me, who have also reached out to each other and it's like, we recognize each other. And I didn't always appreciate that. But as I realize what I've lost by emigrating to the States and I don't know, just being integrated into western ideology in ways of behaving. Whenever I came to the States, I spoke a couple of different dialects of French, which I no longer do. I don't remember them. But it makes me feel better knowing it doesn't have to be the way I act or the way I grew up, it doesn't change what my history is. So, I feel like I'm not entirely divorced. I never can be as long as someone else recognizes me. As long as the community recognizes me.

Alex Chambers:  Does weak ties keep Honey connected to Africans around the world? It's a big community. Here in town, Honey's mom has looped herself into a really tight community too, by putting herself in debt to a group of people who are also indebted to her.

Honey Hodges:  In my family here, there's like, a couple of people that live in my neighborhood with my mom and they do something called Susu, which [LAUGHS] I Googled it and it was a weird little pyramid scheme, [LAUGHS] but what they do is they all put in a certain amount of money each month and it rotates to whoever it goes to. So, my mom will put in, I don't know, 300 a month, everyone else will put in 300 a month and if it's her month, all that money goes to her, and so on and so forth. And if anyone's struggling they're like, "Okay, we can go ahead and push you to the front of the line," and just making sure struggles are never dealt with alone.

Honey Hodges:  Whenever I broke my ankle, all my friends wanted to help and it pissed me off. [LAUGHS] It pissed me off so bad, just like, I didn't want help, I don't need help. And I'm over here in pain, unable to go up the stairs, can't stand and cook for myself, and all they want to do is help. And here it stings at your pride. I think, what I've learned from the west is that a lot of times needing help and not being able to build yourself up is shameful. It's pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. If you can't do that, if you got help, you didn't do it at all, did you?

Honey Hodges:  Every now and then my family-- well, they get together all the time, but whenever they bring it up, they're like, it's so strange to them nursing homes. They're like literally, "What the hell is that?" [LAUGHS] Like, "What do you mean? Other people are taking care of your family? Aren't you ashamed of like being taken care of and then not having the strength or understanding or compassion to take care of who cared for you?". My grandmother lived with my aunt until she passed, and my great-grandma lived with my grandma until she passed, and that's just what you do. You build a house, you build a home, you build your life around knowing that family is first and that you'll always be taking care of each other. Not as a burden, but like you said, as a gift.

Alex Chambers:  Having spent most of their life in the States, Honey is an American. Or, at least they're much more American than their mom. Raising an American child is challenging regardless, but it's that much more so if you didn't grow up here yourself. Your children expect things from you that you may never have asked of your own parents, or maybe that's how it goes wherever you're from.

Honey Hodges:  I think very slowly, but surely, my mom is learning how to be more open in a broad sense, emotionally, like ideologically. I'm queer, I primarily date women and she's not happy about it, but [LAUGHS] she is still actively loving me and trying to understand me regardless, even if my other family hates it, or doesn't encourage it, she's learning in that sense.

Honey Hodges:  I think she's coming to the realization that I'm old enough to be part of the community actively. And the ways I can participate are in ways she's never thought of, ways she doesn't know. Because I didn't grow up in Liberia, I didn't grow up with the same ethics or understandings or biases. And so, she's learning a whole other aspect of community, I think for me, and who can be part of it, how people can be part of it, and she doesn't say it often, but I love it when she does that, she's proud of me, she says, "Thank you," or, "I didn't know that," which, oh my goodness, five years ago she couldn't be caught dead saying that. [LAUGHS] But she's been both proud of herself that I've become an entire human being without huge issues anyway and that everything she's been saying over the past 24 years has been internalized even when it looked like it wasn't.

Honey Hodges:  Now she's asking me questions and there's no shame in that. And I feel like from telling her these things and helping her with these things and being acknowledged, I feel like from afar, from a distance I am learning how to age with grace.

Alex Chambers:  Hey, do you want to describe some collages? So, this whole thing was prompted by me seeing you at the-- was it the Black y Brown Festival?

Honey Hodges:  Yeah, it was.

Alex Chambers:  And you were selling your art and I was intrigued by it. So, I'm seeing now these are like original collages, but you also, I think you had prints of them.

Honey Hodges:  Yeah, I have a hard time letting go of my prints, and also, I'm like, "Oh, I'm selling these little scraps of paper." [LAUGHS] I'm like, "Oh wow, that'll be $30 for a magazine, [LAUGHS] like a quarter of a magazine.

Alex Chambers:  Can you describe some of them?

Honey Hodges:  Yeah, this one, "The Grasping for a Leaf."

Honey Hodges:  Okay. This is kind of a secret and kind of corny. People ask me all the time, "What does this mean? What was your inspiration?" "Nothing." There was no inspiration. I was thinking nothing, quite literally, nothing at the time. But sometimes I like to make up a story about what I think they might like to hear. I'll be like, "You look like you'd love it if I said this." [LAUGHS] And so this one, "Grasping for a Leaf," there's like an airport in the background and kind of a foot stepping out of static onto some plants, like an aloe. And I was like, "Yeah, I made this. You're at the end of lockdown, true. Just like being outside, being so glad to be outside and like you know, it was a breath of fresh air, I was grasping for a leaf from the pandemic."

Honey Hodges:  Not true at all. I love to be alone. I was not upset at all, actually.

Alex Chambers:  When Honey's mom decided it was time to leave Liberia and come to this new place, she created a twist in three-year-old Honey's plot. When their brother and father suddenly couldn't join them here, it was another twist. Their mother and even their brother, have tried to get Honey to stick to each of their narratives but...

Honey Hodges:  Sometimes I'll let them start the story and I'll finish it.

Alex Chambers:  Just like with people's reactions to their collages, more and more, Honey is the one creating their own twists and turns.

Honey Hodges:  It feels like a choose your own adventure.

Alex Chambers:  You can find Honey's work at or on Instagram @allnewgrowth. Thanks to Violet Baron for production help on that piece. It's time for a break, when we come back, more Instagram, plus winter and state parks, stick around.

Alex Chambers:  Welcome back to Inner States, I'm Alex Chambers. Make what you will of Internet lists, but Brown County State Park recently made number six on a list of the most beautiful state parks. And no, this wasn't the most beautiful state parks in South Central Indiana, it was the whole U.S. If, like me, your next question is "Okay, but how's it doing on Instagram?" I've got an answer for you there too. Apparently, it's number 13 among the most Instagrammed state parks. I'm sure we could get that ranking up though, just gotta get Instagramming.

Alex Chambers:  It was right after I heard that news that I met up with Jim Eagleman. He was the park naturalist at Brown County for almost 40 years until he retired a few years ago. We met in early December. Technically, it was late fall, it felt like early fall, foggy and mildly cold. And I wanted to talk to him about the winter. Preparing for it, what the woods are like, what life is like? I didn't predict how much we'd talk about what things used to be like. We started in the house he and his wife, Kay built a few decades ago. Here's Jim.

Jim Eagleman:  When we built, I wanted a big fireplace. I grew up with one and I loved it. When we were building, I got talked out of it. All the workmen here said, "Oh, no, no, no. No, you don't want a big chimney, that's a big heat loss. The heat from the room goes right up the chimney and out the roof and you'll be fighting how to keep the place warm." And I wasn't so much worried about that, as I just felt the aesthetics of a huge massive fireplace with a mantel and, you know, it was just part of the building scheme while we settled on this to get the sandstone chimney, but then the wood stove is more energy conscious to save the heat. But I wanted a fireplace.

Jim Eagleman:  That ends up being the big heat sink. There was massive chimneys with stone or masonry can radiate or continue the heat after the flames gone, or whatever your heat source is and then it just continues to heat the room nicely.

Jim Eagleman:  Fall maintenance kind of goes on for several weeks because the trees continue to drop leaves, it's a never ending thing it seems like. And along with that, people are cutting wood and putting it up for the winter, but those of us who heat with wood, know that you just don't cut wood and stack it, then bring it in to burn, you have to have it seasoned. So, our wood sheds got wood in it from probably as much as eight or ten years ago, and that's what I'm burning now because it's so nicely seasoned and water loss is at a maximum so you don't have to worry about steam coming off your logs in the wood stove, and sometimes you see that with water perking out of the end of a log. So, this is good wood to burn and that's certainly a maintenance issue to keep the wood stove going and the wood shed full.

Alex Chambers:  Was it hard to build up that storage of enough extra wood early on just to have enough to dry?

Jim Eagleman:  Early on you were burning wood that wasn't as nicely seasoned, and now that we've been here and you use wood from other years, it's just the best way. I mean when it's cold out, and you snuggle up to that wood stove, well, figuratively, of course, you stand in front of it and you feel the heat just go up and back up and down your legs and your back, it's just heaven. I mean it's lovely, I love the heat. So, getting to that point takes some time and management of your work schedules and such.

Jim Eagleman:  Feeding birds, maintenance of the leaf, cutting wood, storm windows, snow tires, all this stuff prepping for winter, I guess, is what everybody does. We all take it in stride and say, "Oh no, I got to do that again." Well, that's part of it, isn't it? [LAUGHS]

Jim Eagleman:  Nighttime awareness, I'd have to say over the years, probably changed because of our hesitancy to go out at night and then, a lot of light pollution removed sky gazing and star knowledge and constellations, locations and such. So, all that stuff just kind of changes over time as more and more city lights tend to permeate this night sky. But there are parks, here in the Midwest that are named, night sky parks because they don't have lights at night, or they're not located near a town that has a lot of light pollution. So, people go there purposefully with astronomy groups, let's say, and night vision goggles or observation optics and such and enjoy the night sky where it's very dark. And those places are seemed to be at a minimum where you can get real dark at night with no light nearby.

Alex Chambers:  But you think that night awareness has changed over the time that you've worked?

Jim Eagleman:  Yeah, it's a time that animals are very active, so we always promoted that theme. When we're sleeping, there's a lot of territorial expansion and food searching going on with animals, coons, opossums, bats, hawks and owls and things. Owls particularly, of course. So, when we're sleeping, there's a lot going on, and if you make people aware that this is going on and then we understand more about how animals live, they're active when we aren't. So, it was always maybe a slight bit of hesitancy on most people's part to go out and think, "Where are we going to go? What are we going to do? Are we going to sit down? Are we going to be safe? Are there snakes out there that could harm us?" And things like that. So, you had to allay the fears and say what the typical haunts or habits were of nighttime wildlife. Nothing's out there that's going to wrestle us down into the weeds and go for the jugular or anything like that. They're all doing their thing and we're just a quick visitor into this little nighttime drama.

Jim Eagleman:  I think our appreciation has changed, we scurry from the garage to the house and if we look up into the sky, it's almost a rarity. And I would tend to think that earlier residents of the area were probably closer attached or connected to the nighttime world. And we tend to think of it as an ominous thing that we don't wanna venture into because it's unsafe. That's just awkward thinking, you know, there's a lot going on that we could enjoy if we were mindful that there's nothing that really harm us in the way of nature, there might be other concerns, of course, but going out at night to just enjoy what the experience is, nighttime sounds, insect sounds, toads, frogs, that sort of thing is part of the awareness that when you put that coupled with the daytime world and all your knowing from them, from those experiences, birds, animals, insects and things and then you see the whole nighttime contingent, you think, "Boy, there's a lot going on here that I've missed.

Jim Eagleman:  And so, if you just get people to kind of appreciate what they perhaps didn't consider important, and have them just look at it a little bit differently, that here, this is what's going on and next time you have a chance to go out and see if you notice it in your neighborhood, or when you're home or you're in your natural area, see if you notice the same sounds or the same smells or whatever. And then hopefully, that bit of encouragement gets them out more.

Jim Eagleman:  It's just a beautiful clear, black night with the stars that look like diamonds spread out on a blanket and you think, "My gosh, there's constellations I forgot all about." And if you orient yourself with the Big Dipper and know where the North Star is then you can kind of see how stuff rotates around that circumpolar arrangement of the night sky around Polaris, the North Star, you get a little bit more familiar and go, "Oh yeah, this is like an old friend, I remember learning when I was a Cub Scout," let's say, or, "My dad used to teach me this at night and I forgot all about it." Well, it's a reconnecting with something that you might have known earlier and now you get to see it again. It's cool. Yeah.

Jim Eagleman:  At Turkey Run, we were out one day, I think right after Christmas, I had a hike scheduled and Kay came along but nobody showed up. I met at the Turkey Run Inn, there was very few people in the park and nobody in the lodge, or Turkey Run Inn, but we went out anyway, and we had a dog with us at the time, so we hiked along the creek, Sugar Creek there, Turkey Run and it had been cold for a month or more, frigid temperature and so, Sugar Creek was pretty well frozen over. And we were walking along the creek with the dog and the dog was out on the ice, sniffing and whatever and we were walking along next to the creek, and all of a sudden the ice cracks and the dog's in the water. And she's frolicking around trying to get up onto the solid ice, and I can see that she's in trouble, so like a dummy, I go out onto the ice too with a big long limb to kind of flip her out of the water and the next thing you know, I'm in. And it was over my head.

Jim Eagleman:  And it was at a place of kind of fast current, I should have known better, on Sugar Creek where the water flowed and it wasn't thick ice and the water flowed underneath and I was in it. And I wore a down jacket at the time and that got instantly wet and was pulling me down. And Kay's yelling to get out of the water, and I go, "Yeah, yeah, I'm trying." So, like the dog, I'm trying to find ice that won't break out from underneath me, and we finally get a place where you can get a grip and I get up and throw a leg up onto the ice and get out of the water, and of course, it's just instant shock because it's so cold.

Jim Eagleman:  We ran back to the park office from where I fell in on Sugar Creek, which was probably, I'm gonna say a mile plus, a mile and a half perhaps, with wet clothes and soggy down jackets dragging you down. And by the time I got back I was okay, because I had been running the entire time, but got into the office and stripped down all my wet clothes and got next to the heater and warmed up. And the dog was fine, of course.

Jim Eagleman:  That one experience of falling through the ice in a fast moving creek was shocking. And I often think back on what could have been a lot worse. And so [LAUGHS] you wise up and you pay attention to things like that from now on so it doesn't happen again. You have that memory that's very clear in your mind and you think, "That's not gonna ever happen again, I'm gonna be smarter." That's how accidents happen, you never plan on them, or in this case, I tried to help the dog which got me into more trouble so, not good. [LAUGHS]

Alex Chambers:  Did the dog get out on his own?

Jim Eagleman:  Yeah, the dog got out. Dog got out and was fine and was shaking herself off and looking at me like, "Get out of there and we'll go on with our hike." I think I had a close up lens for my camera at Christmas and I was taking pictures of ice with the close up lens, and I was probably not looking for more beauty in the ice with the sun coming through than I was paying attention to the ice and the creek, until I heard the dog crack through the ice, and I thought, "Oh man, this is serious," [LAUGHS] and then it got more serious.

Alex Chambers:  Right, good thing you didn't get pulled under the ice.

Jim Eagleman:  I thought about that. The current was still flowing enough that I did feel a little bit of pull, but fortunately I was able to get my arms up onto the-- the ice is up here under my arm pits and I'm trying to lift myself up with crusty ice that kept breaking out. And so, finally, I guess I drifted enough to an area that was solid and had frozen enough that I could get a grip without it breaking, and then pull yourself up. So, anybody that's ever done that thinks, "Oh my gosh, this could be the end."

Jim Eagleman:  I don't know, I wasn't panicking, but it was certainly an area or time when you think, "I've gotta use my brain here and get calm or you're really gonna lose it." I think on people with falling through lakes, probably had the same sensation, not that I wanna dwell on this, but it's something that people have to think about when they're out in winter. You know, if there's a body of water that you think is solid, just assume it isn't and be safe, right?

Alex Chambers:  Do you also ski through the park, cross county?

Jim Eagleman:  Yeah, we've cross country skied a lot. We have family in Wisconsin so we use some of their trails and parks for skiing. We don't get the snow so much down here anymore, but we have ski's, we go out when we can and it's an enjoyable thing. When my boys were small and there was more snow, we took them out with a little snuggly packs and their own ski's and sleds and such.

Alex Chambers:  We used to ski here, 20 years ago, but can't so much do it anymore.

Jim Eagleman:  I know. Things are changing and it takes people like that to remember what you used to do in your same area to what it is now, "Oh, well, then maybe things are changing."

Jim Eagleman:  At one time we seriously thought of naming these vista's because they aren't and people look on the park map and they say, "Oh, what's the name of this place, it's next to the camp ground," or "Where's this when relation to the swimming pool," or you need geographic landmarks to help you orient yourself into new areas and parks are new to many people, so I wanted to name the vista's, and this one particularly you mention winter, well, we were going to name this one, this vista, "Winter View." Not for the winter, but for an older park employee by the name of Clayton Winter and Clayton came here everyday and sat on this table to have his lunch. Well, Clayton's gone now and all that we remember is his wonderful craftsmanship with carpentry skills and such. Great guy, wonderful guy, he went into understanding could I make fiber board using weeds?

Jim Eagleman:  So, he'd press weeds flat and then lay one orientation this way and another one this way of weeds, and then put a glue in there and press it, so he wanted to make like a plywood out of weeds saying, "Well, maybe this would be saving the wood resource for something more important and we could make plywood out of plants along the road." So, he toyed with that, and I got to know him that way, and he ate here and sometimes we had lunch together. So, in our attempt to name the vista's it never went through. But this one, I wanted to name "Winter View," for Clayton Winter. It's nothing to do with the winter.

Jim Eagleman:  This was the Conservation Officer Headquarters. This is District Six for law enforcement and officers would come in here and do their paperwork. Originally, it was a game farm managers cabin. They built this for him and his family, and his job was to oversee the introduction of these animals and probably help create habitat for them with food plots and such. So, his job was mostly on hand to be the contact person for whatever research was being conducted, whatever releasing of game birds took place, we brought them in in pens. And they were reared as chicks. And then this big playing field down here that we passed was where these pens were built. And they were quail, grouse, turkey and even Hungarian partridge, I believe. Well, you couldn't have game birds in pens in captivity without getting rid of predators, so one of the jobs of this guy was to remove hawks, owls and snakes because those were food sources, these birds.

Jim Eagleman:  So, there are stories of him getting rid of hawks and owls. Interesting difference from how we look at things now, right? So, one of the things he did, or was here when it happened is one of our great leaders in conservation Aldo Leopald, came through southern Indiana on a Midwestern tour of 11 Midwestern states to work for an ammunitions company in Madison, Wisconsin. So, he was hired by this company to go through the Midwest to talk with farmers, grange operators, landowners on what ammunition would work best for what they were hunting, be it quail, pheasants, rabbits, what have you. That was his job. Well, we know from his map through southern Indiana that Brown County was where he had to have come through from the tracing of his map route.

Jim Eagleman:  So, my thinking is, he must have dealt with this game farm manager and had him tell him, "What are you learning? As these animals are released, how well are they doing?" Now he wanted to know what it would take to hunt them, but we also needed to know how the populations are doing artificially. So, these things were reared and then released. Well, that doesn't work well, [LAUGHS] they aren't really woods wise.

Alex Chambers:  If they're reared in captivity.

Jim Eagleman:  If they're reared in captivity, it's much different than something growing up from a juvenile into the woods, so as they were released, there was high mortality. And so he relates that, and my thinking, to Leopald and Leopald to his notes and made points to make later in his books that he wrote, one on game management that we studied in school. So, it's wonderful to think that the guy that I admired so much as a scientist and an author and just this great conservationist, came through here, talked to the guy in that cabin to say, "What are you learning?" "Well, here's what I'm learning, Mr Leopald. Professor Leopald take this back and incorporate it into your next work." So, it just ties it in nicely. I just get goosebumps thinking that Aldo Leopald, who I just admire and study thoroughly, was here to talk from what he knew from this guy at this cabin, in the early game farm years here at Brown County.

Alex Chambers:  Even though it's December 7th, it's probably 40, 45 degree's out?

Jim Eagleman:  Yeah. Pretty balmy.

Alex Chambers:  Pretty balmy, totally foggy, and I said as we're about to come over here, I was like, "Oh, the views won't be so great." But it's pretty impressive anyway, I have to say.

Jim Eagleman:  Isn't it?

Alex Chambers:  Even with the fog, you can see the darker hills closer and they get kind of faded back into the distance, but it's really gorgeous.

Jim Eagleman:  The fog helps to find the ridges, doesn't it? You have one in front of the other and, of course, on a clear day, we'd look much further, and I think from one of these vista's down the road, the distance to the horizon is about 11 miles. And we're looking due east so we'd be about half way let's say to Columbus, from this vista here in the park. So, 11 miles over rugged terrain and this is this parks trademark, these overlooks and vistas that are just well, as you say, character changing throughout the day, and the season and now with the weather and the fog, they're always inspirational. I love them. Just to just think if I was coming to work on a busy day with a lot of hectic things going on, school groups or whatever, I always look out over these and like throw, give out this sigh of relief because it's just gorgeous. "Okay, now I know why I'm here. Now this is a nice respite. Okay, I can go on," [LAUGHS] despite all the school buses coming.

Alex Chambers:  Jim Eagleman, retired park naturalist and resource specialist at the 13th most Instagrammed state park in the country. That was produced by me, with sound design from Ice Cracking at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve.

Alex Chambers:  You've been listening to Inner States from WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana. If you have a story for us, or you've got some sound we should hear, let us know at Speaking of found sound, we've got your quick moan of slow radio coming up, but first, the credits. Inner States is produced and edited by me, Alex Chambers, with support from Violet Baron, Eoban Binder, Mark Chilla, LuAnn Johnson, Yané Sanchez Lopez, Sam Schemenauer, Payton Whaley, and Kayte Young. Our Executive Producer, John Bailey. Special thanks this week to Honey Hodges and Jim Eagleman. Our theme song is by Amy Oelsner and Justin Vollmar. We have additional music from the artists at Universal Production Music and Ramón Monrás-Sender. All right, time for some down sound.

Alex Chambers:  That was the sound of marbles, lost and found. Until next week, I'm Alex Chambers, thanks for listening.

Singer: See airplanes like start slinging

Subliminal we make our own sounds soon

A dead end for end ringing

I'm coming home

I'm coming home

I'm coming home

I'm coming home

Artist Honey Hodges

Artist Honey Hodges (Sam Schemenauer)

If My Hands Could Look Like Hers

Artist Honey Hodges was born in Liberia. They came to the U.S. with their mom when they were three years old. Honey says their mom devoted every waking hour to making sure her child had what they needed to be a successful American. And when she wasn’t taking care of Honey, she was taking care of other people. Honey can see her age – and all that care – in her hands. Honey is enjoying being an adult now, in a role where she can reciprocate the care their mother has given them. Honey hopes their hands look like hers when they’re older.

You can find Honey’s collages and other work at or on Instagram @allnewgrowth.

Ice, Wood, and Winter View

Make what you will of internet lists, but Brown County State Park recently made number six on a list of the most beautiful state parks. And no, this wasn’t the most beautiful state parks in south-central Indiana. It was the whole U.S. If, like me, your next question is, "Okay, but how’s it doing on Instagram?" I’ve got an answer for you there, too: apparently it’s number 13 among the most Instagrammed state parks. I’m sure we could get that ranking up, though. Just gotta get Instagramming.

It was right after I heard that news that I met up with Jim Eagleman. He was the park naturalist at Brown County for almost 40 years, until he retired a few years ago. We met in early December a while back. Technically it was late fall. It felt like early fall. Foggy and mildly cold. I wanted to talk to him about the winter. Preparing for it. What the woods are like. What life is like. What things used to be like. And what it feels like to fall through the ice.


Our theme song is by Amy Oelsner and Justin Vollmar. We have additional music from the artists at Universal Production Music and Ramón Monrás-Sender.


Special thanks this week to producer Violet Baron for production help with Honey Hodges’ story.

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