Alas, Summer is nearly over, the kids are off to school, the nights are a little cooler and, soon, lounging on my deck will be a thing of the past.

Fall beckons with the promise of football games, cozy gatherings around the fire pit and its breathtaking kaleidoscope of autumn colors. I yearn for the smell of burning leaves and my heart cries out for a Cubs World Series.

I look forward to Halloween, Thanksgiving and a snowy Christmas. The onslaught of another winter certainly sends a shutter down these old bones but a blazing fireplace and lots of good bourbon will lessen the sting.

Many of my old friends are incredulous as to why I endure the Artic winters. So why do I?

This question was put to the late Bud Ruby; his answer was that in Florida he would be just another old man while in Michigan City he was a well-known member of the community.

Bingo! There's my answer. This is my home. It's far from paradise on earth but here is where my roots are deep. I lived in California for 17 glorious years but even then I felt a gentle Midwest tug on my sleeve.

In 1985, I moved my brave, native Californian wife and two very young sons back to Michigan City. I simply realized I was a small town guy at heart.

California certainly has its charms but I missed those Indiana country roads, the deep, dark green of a mature Spring and the sound of crickets outside my window on a warm summer night.

Give me the change of seasons, the lull before the storm, the sun-kissed dunes of Lake Michigan and, for that matter, the many lakes and trails of La Porte County. These blessings are taken for granted but not by me. I am filled with awesome memories every time I drive down Franklin Street or walk the pier.

I like to take a spin by Elston High School or around my old neighborhood. It's comforting to know that some things remain the same. Mr. Ruby had it right. I'm far from being a local celebrity but I'm not a stranger in a strange land. I'm Blaine Heric of La Porte County and happy and proud of it!

A Florida or California address cannot replace being near my sons and grandkids, not to mention the fun and laughter at the local watering hole and the unexpected meeting of old classmates and former students around town. These are the priceless moments that set my soul a-purring and can even make the dreadful winters tolerable.

I'll be in San Francisco this December for a family wedding but with apologies to Tony Bennett I'll leave my heart in Indiana.

As much as I enjoy my Hoosier pleasures, I take special joy in the sense of community. It all comes down to the people. So allow me to raise a toast to the good folks who make up our little corner of the world.

Heric can be reach at kingsif@comcast.net.

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