Tuesday, August 22, 2006

the tail end

We need to talk business – I say this in my most serious voice. I am working on a project with Ed – machine stuff, if you can believe it, and it is time that we had a discussion about forging ahead or scaling back.

Okay, let me pick you up in the late afternoon. Bring your helmet.

'Bring your helmet' means that Ed intends to reach great heights in our discussion – preferably while speeding forward on his motorcycle.

I have 90 minutes. That’s it. I have to get back by 6.
That will be tough…

There are a dozen cafés within a stone’s throw of here! We need to talk for an hour at most!
Café? On a day like this?

Ed guns the engine and we are off. Past Campus Drive, past Borders, past Middleton…

Ed, we are currently surrounded by pastures and farmland! We have left the land of cafés far behind!
Yeah… I want to show you part of the Ice Age trail just beyond Cross Plains (to the geographically stumped reader: Cross Plains is a satellite village far west of Madison; total travel time between the loft and “beyond Cross Plains:” 40 minutes).

We turn into a dirt road, get off the bike, I toss off the tight helmet. The sun is less strong now, in the last days of August. Before me, a path leads up a hill, past old oaks and tall grasses.

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I have always thought of this part of the country as having oak groves and prairie fields, possibly because of my readings (to daughters) of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Oaks and prairie grasses figured prominently in the series.

It’s quiet there, on top of the hill. Butterflies and snakes move around me – the former almost touches me in a hasty flight toward a liatris stalk, the latter moves too quickly for my camera.

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The end of summer in Wisconsin is perhaps the kindest of seasons. While other states are still sweltering and steaming ahead until Labor Day and beyond, we start easing into Fall.

Ed and I did not talk business. The climb up, then down, the ride there and back took time. Everyone should have the luxury of taking time like this – to stroll through grasses among old oak groves before they give up their hold on summer and move on.

Back at the loft, I sit at my computer table and look out only to see yet another ritual sign that Madison is nearing the end of a summer season.

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