Sunday, May 03, 2009

returning to Wisconsin

She’s been living on the east coast for ten years now. All of her young adult years. But when she is home, in Madison, it’s as if she never left. Nearly all of her school friends have moved away, but I need not worry that she comes home to a social void. She is as happy on a solo walk, in the company of mom, or going for a motorcycle ride with Ed.

Always, a daughter's visit home includes a visit to the downtown farmers market. It is a beautiful morning and we stroll without purpose (I am leaving on Monday and so have nothing to buy) and without hurry.


Even as the sidewalk space for the market has grown, much of the content remains the same over the years and making the circle for the first time this season confirms that many familiar vendors are still here, starting their spring run of spinach, mushrooms, bedding plants, and, for the first time this season – asparagus. Predictably, flowers steal the spotlight. I prefer these to the vibrant reds of August. Perhaps because we have moved so quickly now from months of no color, to a market of yellows and pinks.


We usually begin the Downtown Market orbit at CafĂ© Soleil, my former place of moonlighting work, but one unexpected change this year is their decision to cut back on baked goods by 10:30 and switch to a lunch “menu” – a huge loss for all of us who don’t stop by until the late hours of the morning. If you’re as disappointed as we were – tell Tory and Traci you want the spice girls and chevre croissants back on the shelves for all of market time! Only in early-to-rise Midwest would week-end brunch munching have to come to an end before the sun reaches a decent warm spot in the vast skies above us.


No matter. We had always wanted to try Madison’s favorite market bread – Stella’s spicy cheese loaf – and we happily pull at warm twists of cheesy bread the rest of the market morning.


Only once do I remember that a week ago, I was in a Warsaw park. the flash comes when I see that a vendor has a small tray of these familiar little forget-me-nots.


In the afternoon, my daughter and I set out on a long hike. She loves the south Wisconsin hills and forests and so I take her on a segment of the Ice Age Trail that weaves its way to Devil’s Lake – to get a little bit of everything into the mix – the woods, the hills and lake.


We reach Devil's Lake late in the day, but I am nonetheless surprised at how empty it still feels. The lake side boats are laid out for the first time this week-end, but no one is using them now.


In another few weeks, this beach will be full of "city people" -- from as close as Baraboo, and Madison, to as far as Chicago. Though even then, it's always possible to find a quiet, contemplative spot with nothing to rattle the peace that extends over the clear water and the the forested bluffs.


We do not finish the hike until 7. The sun is low, but still warm. A honey warm of golden green tones.


If the trees aren’t fully green, they are at least delicately green. And on the forest floor, fern fronds show the baby fuzz of their delicate green bodies. Nothing is as it was two months ago, two weeks ago. And that’s a good thing.