Saturday, September 13, 2008

loud rooftops and sagging umbrellas

[PREAMBLE: I noted the interview with Doug Moe in yesterday’s post. It’s on line now and you can read it here.]

A fearsome orange wheel, spitting shreds of bright color, turning counterclockwise across the TV screen, moving from the blue of the Gulf to the brown-green of the land. I fall asleep to this image and I wake up with it. Hurricane Ike has replaced hurricane-level political discourse on the news. I suppose everything has its good side.

Madison is far from the Gulf, but the dawn is gray here too, even though we wont get the Ike rains until later in the day. No Ike rains doesn’t mean no rain, and at 7 a.m., when the Westside Community Market is just setting up, the tents are sagging under the force of water. The farmers look up and make mental calculations of how much water a tent cover can take.

005 copy
Purchase print 2027

013 copy
looking up at the big umbrella, toting the little one
Purchase print 2026

044 copy
forcing the water off
Purchase photo 2025

We buy veggies and flowers and springs of mint for the water jug in the fridge, and we make passing comments on the rain. Josie Pradella of Terra Source Chocolates, a newcomer to the market (and a most welcome addition) tells me that you can’t fight the elements, you just have to float with what the weather brings and I smile at that, because it is far easier to feel at peace with the elements if you’re munching an aronia-filled (locally sourced!) chocolate at 7:15 on a Saturday morning.

038 copy
Purchase print 2024

I'm thinking, too, that it helps to have a good pair of galoshes.

024 copy
good galoshes, old umbrellas
Purchase print 2023

I have been in tornado-like storms here, in the Midwest, and I know the throbbing noise of pounding rain and it should scare me, because moving through it ranks high on the list of dangerous things that I have done. But the sound of relentless rain reminds me more of drawing rainbows with colored pencils under the sloped roof that my grandfather built over the village house in Poland. I would listen for the claps of thunder and if there were none, I would keep drawing, endless pictures of setting suns and colorpacked rainbows.

The rain would pick up speed, and then slow down, and when finally, it would settle into a silent drizzle, we would step outside and smell the dampness. Never did it occur to me to call those days gray ones. Green, pungent, minty crisp.

Josie, of chocolate fame, is right to shrug at the clouds, the downpour, the sagging overhead umbrellas. It's raining. Umbrellas do sag. Besides, it doesn't feel all that gray at the market today, here in Madison. Wet, but not gray.

048 copy
Purchase print 2022

051 copy
Purchase print 2021

the interview

Everyone in town knows Doug Moe. A columnist at the Wisconsin State Journal and before that at the Capital Times, he is widely read and much adored.

So of course, when he sent me an email asking if I wanted to chat about my new book, I said sure! Who would say no to a line or two from the pen of Doug Moe?

The key thing I retained from my days of talking to the press (when I worked as an attorney at the Center for Public Representation – a nonprofit advocacy organization) is that you keep your sentences short and you leave the reporter with soundbites. Everything else is irrelevant.

I prepared a two page outline of points about me, the blog, and the book. Keep the man focused on the benign, the lovely, the immaterial.

Doug sat at the Panera booth, waiting. Pad on table, pen ready.

001 copy

He glanced over my outline, smiled, and went to his own questions.

Before I knew it, an hour had passed and I experienced what one must feel after a very successful visit to a therapist – all truths out on the table, the soul expunged, the stories duly noted.

Wait a minute: did I really just tell him about the fact that I’m scared of lightening and that my occasional travel companion, Ed, lives in a sheep shed? Did I describe to him how I got my job as a nanny in America? Did I admit that I am a terrible entrepreneur? And did I reveal my deep secret that way back when, I imagined myself to someday be a journalist?

Good grief.

Read all about it. In our Sunday paper.