Saturday, September 17, 2016


It's a beautiful Saturday in south central Wisconsin!

Morning glance:

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There isn't a breakfast to speak of. I'm not unreasonable -- Ed is exhausted and asleep. I have a market date with Snowdrop and her mom. But unexpectedly, a good friend shows up, someone whom we haven't seen in a long long time and so I pull Ed out of bed and as long as he's up, I may as well bring out a few of the breakfast accoutrements.

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And then I take out the old rose-ah-roo and I moped my way to Snowdrop's home. From there, we walk with her mom to the market.

It is our habit to first stop at Graze for a bakery snack. Snowdrop always gets a croissant. Baguette, croissant -- important words in a young child's vocabulary! (It is also her reward for putting up with the very slow moving walk around the square: Saturday markets are always very crowded.)

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Marketing done. We go out onto the green for a romp.

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Snowdrop loves these minutes. Run, walk, push stroller -- they're all her favorites.

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And when she's happy, she doesn't hold back. The world knows it. There's a reason why her school teachers call her "happy girl."

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After the market, I moped home. The soy fields across the road from the farmette look very autumnal now. Are we that close to the cold season?

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In the later afternoon (and possibly because we had such a good time a week ago at the Jefferson Sheep and Wool Festival), Ed and I go to a more distant but promising by the sounds of it Monroe Cheese Days Festival.

Not to take credit for being farsighted, but as we pull into town, I have a feeling that this is going to be different and not necessarily in a good way. In this small village of 10,800, there is no parking to be found within many, many blocks of the town square.  Eventually, we snag a half legal spot (you could argue how much of your tail can poke into the yellow strip) and we follow the stream of pedestrian traffic to the noise at the village green.

There are many blocks leading into the square where I could have taken a similar photo. The conclusion? There are very many people here today.

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And we hear the complaints from locals who are on the retreat: too many people! What, says another -- do you want them to expand the village green?

I myself wouldn't go that far. But it is awfully hard to warm up to a cheese festival where the excitement seems to be about things other than good cheese. It is, for example, far easier to grab hold of countless beers and fried foods and whatever other junk stuff you associate with local fairs than to get your hands on local cheese.

Here's a pleasant respite: old tractors, as displayed by proud farmers.

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And here's one more rather sweet moment: watching three men play modest melodies on the alphorn.

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The one bit of cheese we sampled came at this place -- where the woman was carving a cow head on a slab of what turned out to be very good cheese. I know, because she picked up the reject slivers and handed them to whoever was nearby (me). Yum.

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The more typical consumption at the festival looked like this (he's dabbing his fries in what I assume is melted cheese of sorts, while in line to buy a fried cookie dough sundae, or some such good stuff):

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Oh, I suppose I'm a touch unfair. There was a tent in which some cheesemakers (I have no idea as to which ones and how good they were) displayed their stuff and allowed you to sample some of what they produced. That tent had a line that was at least an hour's wait. You bought your beer, added another, then another, and eventually you were inside, sampling.  Well now, as I told Ed -- you could ask any of the cheese vendors at the Madison market for a sample of their cheeses and you'd get it on the spot. No fuss, no wait. Most stores in town selling Wisconsin cheeses would do the same. Why wait the hour or more to get in the tent, not knowing if it was worth the wait to begin with?

We left not exactly disappointed (the tractors, the horn blowers, the people-watching), but glad nonetheless to be out in the quiet countryside again.

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(Pumpkin stand on the way home.)

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Evening photo: much like the first one in this post only different. Subtly so. But that's what's so grand about it. Not in your face, just gentle and pretty.

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1 comment:

  1. My parents are from Monroe, and I've only been to Cheese Days once, back in the 80s. Even then, it was far more a "fair" atmosphere than celebration of some really wonderful cheese, talented hard-working farmers and Swiss culture. We haven't gone back because I prefer going to the local restaurants when it's not as crazy. Then again, I probably would go back since my 16 year old relative has a band which is apparently quite good and popular, and if I were to consume all that beer with some of my parents' friends, I'd probably learn all sorts of good stories. But, that's an entirely different point. Someday I want to do a bike tour from New Glarus-Monroe and stop at the breweries along the way. It's so beautiful in that part of the state.


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