Saturday, June 16, 2012

June in Wisconsin

Every time we fly to Madison, WI, we fear the airplane ride but love the result. After all, we go to visit our three grandchildren and their parents.

Even though our American Airlines flight had a 45 minute delay, we still arrived in Chicago in plenty of time to catch the puddle jumper to Madison.

Our children and grandchildren gave us the kind of warm and welcoming greeting that typified the old TV shows like the Brady Bunch and Father Knows Best.

We toured the extensive stone-work landscaping around their house, put in to prevent erosion and promote environmental causes. Thousand pound boulders, cut to fit and mesh with each other by skilled stone masons, provided a beautiful sea wall that reminded Edgar of the photos he saw of the Mayan pyramids. It was a little too chilly to go swimming in Lake Kegonsa and much too windy. But not too windy for the water skiers that we saw on Lake Manona - the Mad-city water ski team performs every Sunday afternoon and this is their 50th year.

I asked if the "Mad" was short for crazy or Madison and the official had to think for a minute before he answered, with a smile, Madison.

They performed ballet-like maneuvers, pyramids, jumps and turns in spite of the wind. The Mad-city ski team has won many water skiing championships. Their web site is

Wisconsin, although known as the Dairy State, is replete with farmland. Corn grows like blades of grass as close together that only mechanical harvesters can handle it.

The state also has abundant fruit crops and we went strawsberry picking at Lutz farm. The seven of us managed to pick about 30 pounds of delicious, juicy, sweet, red, ripe strawberries. What to do with them besides eat them right out of the rinsing bowl. They were very sandy. Strawberry flan served as dessert; strawberries sweetened the breakfast oatmeal; and strawberry jellies would fill the freezer.

The farmer said that birds did not bother the strawberries but raccoons were a nuisance. He catches them in traps that entice them because raccoons have a natural curiosity.

The town of Stoughton, founded by Norwegian settlers, sports both flags from the United States and Norway. The quaint stores include a bakery, a cheese shop, a movie theater/pizza parlor where the patrons sit at tables in regular chairs, eat, and watch the movie. There is a U.S. Post Office, a shop that sells hunting equipment and fishing supplies, a frame shop, and so forth. But the economy has taken its toll and there are many empty stores now. A new development is under construction and there is hope that the new owners will bring money and revitalize the town's economy.

The landscaping around Lake Kegonsa deserves to be in House and Gardens. Each house has blooms of various sizes, shapes, and colors, ranging from bright yellow marigolds to orange tiger lillies to cleamtis vines in vivid purples, pinks, and whites, to fragrant roses. A street-side walk refreshes the mind and the emotions.

We enjoyed our stay and were not the only ones who were sad when it was time to leave. Our grandchildren gave us meaningful hugs and kisses and said that they wished we could stay even longer. A funny thing happened on the puddle jumper from Madison to Chicago - the flight attendant told Edgar that he was from Philadelphia and went to Central High School too and the copilot said that he went to Cardinal Dougherty and LaSalle College. "what a small world."

BTW, without trying, I sold two of my Hawaii crime novels - one in the Chicago airport and one on the plane from Chicago to Philadelphia. So glad that Edgar made me take them along.

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