Autumn is a rustling, murmuring time. In no other season of the year are we more likely to be surprised by nostalgia. In its mellow golden days and chill cozy nights our imaginations drift like woodsmoke, the past like some marvelous spice seems to seep into the present, and the line between now and once-upon-a-time—between here and very-far-away—is never thinner, more prone to dissolving.
In the autumn we reminisce, we dream, and we tell tales. Here in Chesterton, Indiana, the Gateway to the Dunes, hard by the shoreline of mysterious Lake Michigan, people still speak of the woman sometimes seen swimming in the surf or running along the beach. No woman, though, but a specter, the ghost of Alice Mabel Gray—nicknamed Diana of the Dunes by the press—who escaped a world too much with her in Chicago to live a recluse’s life in a shack on the beach, until her death in 1925.
One needn’t believe in ghosts, of course, to learn something from them. Ghost stories are folk memories, and when told well, on the very site of the spiriting, they conjure a long-ago time and place as haunting as any spook.
This autumn come to Chesterton and hear its secret history. Chesterton Ghost Tours (www.chestertonghosttours.net) and Chaos Haunted & Historical Tours (www.chaostrips.com) will lead you through the old neighborhoods where some residual presences may yet tarry at the scene of the crime or passion’s last gasp.
There’s no finer place in Northern Indiana to spend an Indian Summer’s day than Chesterton
and celebrate the ripeness and plumpness of the season. On Saturdays through October, enjoy fall’s bounty abounding at the European Market in Downtown Chesterton, the preeminent farmers market in Indiana. On Wednesday afternoons through October, sample the best Northwest Indiana‘s farmers and food artisans have to offer, at the Coffee Creek Farmers Market. On Sundays, stroll the Upsadaisy Market, beneath the scarlet and gold of Chesterton’s Thomas Centennial Park, and take your pick of wares handmade and tooled by local craftspeople.
Visit Chesterton this autumn, where the past is closer than you think.