I’ve been asked that over and over and over (etc) again: why do I continue to live in Wisconsin? As if I am the type that should be scheming and planning exit strategies to leave this state that has the climate of the tundra and requires two flights to get to any major non-Midwestern city.
I answer in terms of work. I answer in terms of friends. I even sometimes answer in terms of the Farmers Market. [Do I really stay here because of the Farmers Market? Of course not, but people nod their heads as if this makes perfect sense.]
What I don’t mention is the natural beauty of the place.
This omission has not gone by unnoticed. A friend, himself a transplant from New York, has taken it upon himself to shake me loose of my fixation with the big city. And I have had to admit with great shame and embarrassment that I really do not know Wisconsin, even in and around Dane County (of Madison), all that well. I have never climbed up Observatory Hill in Paoli, or Gibraltar Rock outside Lodi. And my ignorance extends over the Ice Age Trail – I’ve never walked it, and the Merrimac ferry – I’ve never used it to cross the Wisconsin River.
As of today, I’ve done all the above. Okay, people, let me tell you this: move to Wisconsin. It is one hell of a beautiful state.
It’s Fall. Of course I can’t get away from nature’s forceful use of bright, audacious color. But don’t assume that this Wisconsin flattery is merely one of those passing fancies: here on this perfect Autumn day, gone tomorrow.
Gibraltar Rock woods
Not far from this sandstone formation, we pick up the Ice Age trail. It doesn’t make much sense to me really. It’s not as if some types walked here during the Ice Age. Who even went for walks during the Ice Age? No matter: it is divine. And we struck it at sunset.
Within a spit’s throw (perhaps people don’t think well of Wisconsin because they think we use phrases such as “spit’s throw;” we don’t. really), there is the Merrimac Ferry. I asked my friend “where do we buy tickets??? The ferry is docking!!” He looked at me as if I were the Ninny-supreme, as opposed to the Ninny who got this unfortunate nickname in grad school 30 years back. “It’s free.” Of course. Because coming from a childhood in New York I would be entirely skeptical that any form of movement from point A to point Z could be free.
across the Wisconsin River
I was to be taken to the next round of scenic places but I am beginning to put my foot down to navigating country roads after dark. It’s pretty scary in these parts where there are no bright street lights and hot dog vendors at every intersection. It’s just you and nature out there. Though I happen to think that the natural world is much like me: interesting maybe, quirky at times and very likely to do things very imperfectly. Hey, take a look at the geese flying in this (imperfect) V formation.