By Gene Stratton-Porter
Come where the chewink chewunketh,
Come where the wild grapevines swing;
Come where the craw-dads are crawling
Over the bed of our spring.
Come where the sun in red glory
Tops Kestler’s tamaracks gray,
Come where the black bass are leaping
And the red-wings are calling all day.
Come where the rattlesnake rattles
While the kingfisher rattles also.
Come where the horned owl is hooting
And it rains at the call of the crow.
Come where the harebell is ringing
While the bluebell its worship call tolls’
Come where the vireo preaches,
And the Hermit his vesper song rolls.
Come where the polecat’s perfuming
Mingles with flower-scented air,
Come to our swamp in its glory,
Its joys we invite you to share.
This is a poem that Gene Stratton-Porter gave to Indiana for the state’s Centennial in 1916. It was published in “An Invitation to You and Your Folks from Jim and Some More of the Home Folks” compiled by George Ade. It is the first time that it was published; parts of this poem were written at an earlier date but not published. She wrote this beautiful poem that blended parts of both of her Indiana homes into it. In 1916 she owned both homes.
The Limberlost Cabin is in Geneva and where she lived and wrote for twenty-five years. She did her kingfisher studies here at the old gravel pit. There are “craw-dads crawling” in the creeks and wetlands still today. She wrote about the dangers of rattlesnakes and polecats in the swamp. Charles made sure she that he or a male guide went with her when she was out in the swamp.
Gene loved the Limberlost Swamp which she lived at the edge of in Geneva. She made the swamp famous and would be forever tied to it. When she built Wildflower Woods on Sylvan Lake she called the cabin Limberlost North. When she mentioned the tamaracks she is referring to the trees that are around the area of the lake.
When she wrote of the black bass she is referring to both places. In her book “At the Foot of the Rainbow” which takes place at Rainbow Bottom along the Wabash River she wrote of the black bass. While living at Sylvan Lake she enjoyed bass fishing and even “planted” bass there as part of a conservation effort. The lines of the birds, wildflowers, and grapevines she could be referring to one or both places. Her owl studies were done while she lived in Geneva.
It was inspiration from this poem that the exhibit “Limberlost Then and Now” was created and will be up through mid December.
This poem is only one of the things that Gene did for the state’s Centennial. We will share more of Gene’s year in the coming months. We at Limberlost State Historic Site would like to extend a special “Limberlost Invitation” for all our friends to visit the site or attend one of our special Bicentennial events this year.