Saturday, February 02, 2008

square days

You can’t say that Madison lacks mood or character. Spend a summer Saturday morning at the Capitol Square – the place sings with the market! It’s a carnival of people, foods, flowers.

But downtown on a winter Saturday morning? Nothing would drag me there.

Except, maybe, a gentle snow, a willing Ed, and a suggestion of winter play. Of sorts.

And, though it is cold, it’s not so bad that you can’t start thinking about groundhogs and counting the days ‘til spring.

In the meantime, we are right in the midst of Madison’s Winter Festival. If that sounds a bit grandiose, well, maybe it is a tad overstating the level of frolic. It’s definitely not Mardi Gras down on the Square, but it is, nonetheless, utterly charming in a cold sort of way. Traffic is diverted, snow is covering every inch of concrete and road, kids and adults are trying out alternative ways of moving around.

002 copy

And it’s all really sweet. No, truly, it is fantastic to see the Square looking perfectly Alpine, or Nordic, or some such loveliness.

044 copy

Ambitious people are creating winter art. Like this ice sculptor: he's starting to chip away at an ice block:

029 copy

We watch for a while, then head to the newly opened patisserie on the Square (“Sucre”). (People like me need frequent warm up spots.) Fantastic baked goods! As pretty as any in France.

036 copy

Okay, back outside, our man is still sculpting and the snow is falling and it is all so wintery.

016 copy

So, it’s a perfect moment to wander into the new cheese store (Fromagination), also on the Square (to warm up again).

050 copy

Starting to look like Paris here, no?

Further up, snow sculptors are packing down and chiseling their stuff. Couldn’t quite figure out what this is, but it looked significantly impressive.

059 copy

Getting totally nostalgic now (oh, look, he’s sculpting where the Flower Factory sells its stuff in the summer!), we decide to scoot over to Monona Terrace, thinking that the Winter Farmers Market is there. (It’s not – it’s at the Senior Center these months.)

Finding nothing, we walk out onto the bike path and watch the handful of kite enthusiasts standing out there in the cold, snowy expanse of frozen water, flying their banners.

087 copy

The color is barely there on this white on white day, but still, there is something majestic in their effort to put that splash of brightness in the sky.

073 copy

Satisfied, we walk back to the ice sculptor – finishing touches now.

096 copy

We end the day at Sucre. Best cherry scone ever. Wonderful sandwich. Great coffee.
Life’s beautiful, here in Madison on February 2nd. Snow and all. And only a few weeks now until Spring.