Sunday, July 13, 2008

from Wisconsin: coming home

It’s Saturday. We are on Drummond Island and by all accounts, the weather is unsteady. By some accounts, the waters may be choppy on this day and the next. At the same time and perhaps most significantly, if you haven’t realized this yet (let’s be honest): Ed’s comfort level with risk is huge, and mine vacillates. In the matter of storms and choppy waters, I am on the conservative side. Ed is looking at me with true puzzlement. I have never known anyone who is afraid of being outdoors during storms, he tells me.

It becomes a stalemate. Or, more to the point, in a potential further expedition, I have become a stale mate. I want a gentle run. Ed would go along, but the sense of adventure would be lost. It would be like wheeling your great grandmother to the rose garden for an afternoon snooze. Nice, but sort of tame. At the same time that I refuse to be regarded as a timid softee.

And so, in spite of the fantastically sunny skies that are due in the next days, we turn the car toward the ferry and head home.

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Purchase photo 1883

But slowly.

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Purchase photo 1882

Because sometimes you pull back too quickly in life and you wish you had hung around just a little longer.

Since it is Saturday (market day back home!), we stop at a road stand and buy cherries and peas from a local farmer. The cherries are really from around Traverse City, but the peas are his own. Organic! – he tells us proudly.

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Purchase photo 1881

In Escanaba, we find a cafĂ© with WiFi and we search for a place to stop for the night. So that we don’t return on the run, defensively.

We find a small b&b just outside of Marinette, across the Menominee River (separating Wisconsin from Michigan). The b&b is tranquil, secluded. We need that sense of peace tonight.

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Purchase photo 1880

We eat at a laidback place by the river and watch the sun go down.

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Purchase photo 1879

And in the morning, we take the dog, Murphy, for a walk around the fields and forests belonging to our innkeepers.

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Purchase photo 1878

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Purchase photo 1877

We talk more about risk and adventure. It’s a long discussion. It doesn’t end until we reach Madison late in the afternoon.

The drive itself has such memorable Wisconsin touches!

We pass through the town of Peshtigo, where we take the time to visit the Historical Museum of Peshtigo and the cemetery where victims of the 1871 great fire of Peshtigo are buried.

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The fire happened on the same day as the great Chicago fire. The Peshtigo fire claimed more lives and took more property than the Chicago blaze, but the big city’s notoriety completely trumped the story of the Wisconsin tragedy.

Further south, on the shores of Lake Michigan, we look at the thin strip of Door County across Green Bay. Hard to believe that the winds blew the fire across the bay, but they did and Door County, too, experienced significant damage.

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But let me end this post on a cheerful note, as the day itself ends on a cheerful note. Discussions can lead to good outcomes and drives on the backroads can lead you to scenes where families of sandhill cranes traipse through fields of flowers. Did I ever mention how pretty this state is?

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Purchase photo 1876