Sunday, October 04, 2009

like the wind

When the seasons change here, in Madison – from fantastically wonderful (summer) to dismally bare (everything else) – you start looking out for the exceptional days. The ones where you can truly enjoy the changes in the landscape. Good weather days.

Ed, I think this is a good weather day. I know I should work, but I need the break. I need to be outdoors, moving, moving...
How about a butterfly and flower walk in the Arboretum?
Sounds like something for very old or very young people. I need to spin!
A fungus spotting walk hike to the Picnic Point? -- He’s reading off events in and around town.
No, let’s head out! Let’s splurge on the good weather! Something exhilarating!

We pack our bikes and drive to Evansville, some twenty miles south of here. This is the week-end of the Harvest Windmill Festival. In the early afternoon, we can join others for the Ride Like the Wind bike tour of some of the old area windmills.

Windmills are big in Evansville. Not "big" as in "huge." The ones lining Main Street today are actually quite small. "Big" as in "big deal." These models have been worked over by area artists. Today, they're auctioned off to the highest bidders. (The most admired one sold for $2000 and the second best went for $1700).



Fine, there was an auction. Earlier, we had watched a local band – just so you know, the drummer also yodels – inspiring a few to dance.


(Others preferred the funnel cakes. There wasn't a line at the funnel cake trailer.)


And we made our way to the cemetery, where some very animated performers recounted stories of the lives of some of Evansville’s past everyday heroes (a painter who traveled to Giverny to befriend Monet, a soldier who died in the Second Battle of Bull Run (1862), a woman suffragette who had Susan B Anthony come out to Evansville to give a talk, and so on).


It was at the cemetery that it struck me that this day is no good-weather miracle. The wind whipped through the fabric of inadequate jackets, the clouds covered any pretense of sunlight. The handful of spectators stomped their feet. Yes, we truly are at the cusp of winter. Even if it looks like fall.


I insisted on hot coffee and Evansville does deliver a mean espresso. Revived, Ed and I set out on the (not too long) Ride Like the Wind adventure.

We were some two hours late for the official event, but Ed likes to avoid crowds. In Evansville, crowds never seem to exceed a count of a dozen or so, but still, it is pleasant to bike in solitude. And to pause at the first wind mill (by the high school)…


…and the second, amidst late autumn prairie pods, flowers and fruits…



… and the third, rising above the brick buildings of the Baker Manufacturing Company.


It is this third that seems to me to be most evocative (perhaps because Baker was once in the business of manufacturing these tall mills that powered water pumps).


Yes, it’s me, in a Rike Like the Wind t-shirt over a jacket, sweater and two other shirts. And still cold.

We ended the day over sandwiches with a retired art teacher and his teacher wife at the Main Street sandwich shop. We had run into friends earlier – Madisonians who now live in Evansville and miss being closer to the city. Not these teachers.

Love it here. The changes to Main Street – wonderful. Used to be bars. Now – a cafĂ©, a sandwich shop…


Great place to raise kids.

Of course, that’s what I say about Madison. And we have significantly better public transportation! Still, I can imagine the sweetness of life here. Where teachers pool their money to buy a artsy windmill for their school. And old couples dance while the drummer yodels.