Friday, February 08, 2013

up north

When you say you're going 'up north' in Wisconsin, everyone knows you're heading for the woods and the lakes and the clear crisp air. Maybe to fish if you're into throwing down a line. Yeah.

So we're going up north. Not for long -- one night. I take what I can get from my traveling companion!

First, the morning meal. I take note of Ed's beard: I missed the January trim. Oh well. After the ski weekend.


Heading out of here... Not that it's disagreeable right now in Madison! The morning is deliciously blue (it doesn't last, but it is a pretty beginning).

DSC00908 - Version 2

And all that sunshine really melts the snow on our sloping roof. A loyal Ocean reader from Boston wrote that she was watching to see if her roof would crash under the weight of the snow. Well now, Lili, at least you don't have the wall of ice forming on your eastern overhang.

DSC00909 - Version 2

I work indoors, glancing now and then at the pretty new bargain bouquet ($6.99, again, sort of from Ed. Sort of.)

DSC00910 - Version 2

The goal is to leave around noon. Ed is up at his business site, waiting for me to join him. We'll drive together from there.

Except, come noon,  I cannot get the donkey car out of its spot under the willow tree. Tires are spinning. Ice!

Okay, I can handle it. I hack away under the wheels, tearing my hand, tearing anything and everything.

Still spinning. I take a shovel to it. I chip away with such vigor that I must have over strained. Stomach cramps. Drat. Hack, pound, chip.

Still spinning. Cardboard under tire. Not helpful. The wheel moves over it and spins on the other side, on the next sheet of ice.

An hour later I call Ed, not so much for help -- he's forty minutes away from me, but for that sympathetic acknowledgement that life is tough. I can't get out!

But of course, with enough hacking and chipping, I do make progress and eventually I am free and driving to join him.

Are you okay? Well he might ask. My hand is bleeding and I'm doubled over with cramps.
Should we be going up north? You probably tore a muscle... He asks even as we veer left and onto the highway.
I'll be okay... I say, thinking that I most likely ripped my stomach open or am suffering a protracted heart attack with spleen complications, to say nothing of a pancreatic ulceration. Your imagination can do wonders as you head north on the road while your companion dozes, seemingly oblivious to the tragedy that unfolds.

Halfway up north, I pull over. You drive, I tell Ed. I need to lay flat.
I think about how easy it is to get into a tizzy about most anything at all if you can't get yourself to let go. It's not the first time that sudden and extreme exertion has pushed me into a tailspin. Time to take stock: are my insides really disintegrating in rapid succession, or is it that I need to unwind? Lay down maybe. Let the knots untangle.

Within minutes I am fine, we are fine, the world is a safe and peaceful place again.

Wausau. That's our destination. We were here last year and it was a wonderful winter escape. Interestingly, it's the same number of miles from our home to Wausau  as it is from our home to Chicago. One is to the north, the other to the south. This weekend, it's all about the north. The forests. The snow. The trails.

We know where to go. Even before finding our hotel (the Jefferson Street Inn), we head for the Nine Mile County Park. Their cross country trails are superb! Like no other! By 3:30, we're set to go.

DSC00914 - Version 2

Skiing against a northern sunset is difficult to describe. At once, you want the sun to stay steady, to give you that glow you need to keep going. At the same time, you appreciate the fading light, the shadows, the muted colors. We do the 6 kilometer loop (the shortest one) tonight.

DSC00922 - Version 2

It's a wonderful set of hours. The body feels whole, the mind -- at peace again.

DSC00920 - Version 2

And now for dinner. That's easy in Wausau. We loved the Red Eye Brewing Company the last time we were here and even if neither of us is inclined toward beer tonight, it is a wonderful place to go to for the salads, the mushrooms with goat cheese, the pizza of our own creation.

DSC00957 - Version 2

Day is done. Yes, I have to wonder if Isis is okay. If the mice are staying away (we caught one at the farmhouse just last night). I have to miss, just a little bit, the morning rituals in the breakfast nook of the farmhouse. Not for long though. We are up north. The weather's holding, the snow is perfectly groomed and ready. Exhale, let out a big sigh of relief, smile.