Falling in Love with Jennings County Fall

JENNINGS COUNTY, INDIANA – A trip to Indiana in the fall is always a treat. It’s no surprise that people flock from all over for a glimpse at the glorious colors in Clifty Falls and Brown County, but quite often some of the more unpopular spots go unnoticed. Consequently, it’s always the less traveled paths that peak my interest.

I believe some of the best autumn spectacles can be found where nature remains largely untouched by human hands. Places like these can be found easily by turning one’s gaze to some of the smaller towns in the heart of Hoosier country. Often state parks and hiking spots go unnoticed by out of towners that just use smaller cities as a throughway, so there are many nooks and crannies that have never even seen a camera. Many of these spots can be found in the beautiful areas surrounding North Vernon in Jennings County. The first shoot location that I decided to enjoy was just outside of North Vernon to the south, Muscatatuck Park.

Muscatatuck Park is the slightly lesser known sibling to Muscatatuck State Wildlife Refugee that lies to the west of the county. The wildlife refugee sees an abundance of travelers and photographers looking for a close up encounter with many different animal species, but unfortunately the park is not as popular for reasons unknown to me. This pleases me, however, because there are no lines to get my shots at some of my favorite spots like what often happens in the fall when places like Brown County get overrun with photogs looking for a good time. The land remains peaceful and divine in Muscatatuck Park, and through sheer serendipity I found myself there close enough to sunset to enjoy an extra special symphony through my lens.

Tunnel Mill was the next stop on my last-minute agenda for the day. It is hidden at the end of a trail that begins next to Baldwin Cemetery just outside of Old Vernon. The location was once a nineteenth century mill on the Muscatatuck River South where a tunnel was cut through a ridge to provide a water head for the mill.

Signs at the entrance to the path warn against the dangers of the area due to the instability of the remaining structures. This is definitely a smart warning as it is easy to get lost in the beauty of one’s surroundings and forget about the pitfalls that could occur. Over time the mill has all but crumbled leaving merely a small bit of wall and a chimney stack, and the tunnel itself has even seemed to shorten recently as the earth finally gives way to the weight of the overhead trees, and comes tumbling down.

These perils have never seemed to deter me from enjoying Tunnel Mill, and all its glories. I will say, however, that I am kinda a scaredy cat when I hike alone, and did not brave the trip through the long dark tunnel this time. Hopefully, Mother Nature will give me at least one more chance in this life to be enveloped in that chilly tunnel darkness, but I dare say it would not be on this day. I think it’s safe to say, though, that she’ll remain sturdy far beyond my time at bat.

Unfortunately, my little love affair with nature came to an end all too soon with the setting sun. I reluctantly returned to my car, and headed back to the hustle and bustle of Indianapolis, but certainly felt a renewed sense of serenity throughout. Jennings County will always be special to me with its glorious scenery and beyond beautiful little nooks and crannies untouched by the turbulence of today. I only wish I could hibernate until it’s warm enough for me to return and fall back in love all over again.

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Melodie Yvonne

Melodie Yvonne, lead photographer and owner of Photographic Melodie, grew up in the small southern Indiana town of North Vernon. She picked up her first camera at the age of 5, and was immediately hooked. By the age of 15 she began to turn every trip, even just to the local park, into a fantasy scene of her own imagination, and started mentoring with many local professionals. Melodie received an Associates of Applied Science in Visual Technologies majoring in Photography from Ivy Tech in 2002 after studying under acclaimed professors and many other masters in the field.

Melodie’s main focus has always been music photography. Growing up listening to many amazing musicians inspired her dream to create visual images that made people feel the way they do when listening to music. Her goal was to help people SEE the music.

Melodie has done numerous jobs around the country ranging from working for bands to being the official photographer on many southern Indiana Poker Runs. Her specialties are in nature, music, and candid event photography. She published her first print work, a collection of images & poetry, in 2011, and has since published many more print works. Melodie currently acts as owner & lead photographer at Photographic Melodie, House Photographer for Purdue Theatre, and Tour Photographer for multiple Billboard Charts topping bands as well as freelance work with many other media outlets, venues, and musicians.

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