A windowful of antlers in Viola. Or LaFarge.
As I’ve documented before, I do a lot of driving around during my weekends in southwest Wisconsin. This past weekend, we had two friends along and decided to take a different route, heading to Viola and La Farge. Three times during the trip, we told our driver: STOP! TURN AROUND! (He is a patient man.)
STOP! Time Number One: An Antler Installation in Viola (actually, we now can’t recall, it might have been La Farge — anyone out there know?). Someone had converted empty storefront windows in an empty building to a vast collection of hunting trophies. That’s a lot of bucks. And yes, hunting season had begun in this part of the state.
Really, really big squash on Rte. 61, near Mt. Zion.
STOP! Time Number Two: A lineup of gigantor squash set out along Rte. 61. I think they might have been hubbard squash, but at this size who knows? For the record, sticking my head inside one of them was a little smelly.
We didn’t get a photo of STOP! Time Number Three, which happened when Deborah spotted a beautiful Siamese case in an alley, and made our Patient Driver stop so she could roll down the window and coo at it.
(Photos by John Koethe)
Sometimes when I’m in the passenger seat (and maybe a little when I’m not) I’ll hold my Flip camera up to the window. I’m fascinated by the motion of the landscape going by. Here’s my first attempt to edit a bunch of video into something. From two recent trips to southwest Wisconsin.
(Country driving isn’t the only time I hit the record button to collect random scenery. I posted something from PrideFest earlier this year.)
A view of the Bean House from the upper meadow.
I’ve made mysterious inferences about trips to southwest Wisconsin, and it’s time to reveal the reason why. My partner John, knowing he would be retiring soon and having spent considerable sums of money on fly rods and reels, got it into his head a few years ago that he’d like to build a little getaway house in fly-fishing country.
He also decided he would furnish it entirely from the L.L. Bean catalog (which I had opinions about). A friend referred to his project as the Bean House one time, and it stuck.
It is located in the Kickapoo Valley. Nearby towns include Boscobel, Gays Mills, Soldier’s Grove and, a little further up the road, Viroqua. There is not much to do around here except fish and admire the view. Some restaurants serve only potato and cole slaw as vegetable choices.
This swath of Wisconsin is called the Driftless Area; it is the only part of the state never touched by glaciers. So its rough edges still show, and it’s hillier than the rest of the state. And it’s gorgeous. I love the thought of Going Driftless. One dictionary definition I found:
Having no drift or direction; without aim; purposeless.
I think I’ll start saying, “I’m Going Driftless.” It’ll mean I’m on my way to the Bean House to dreamily consider the landscape, eat cole slaw, and re-connect with my rough edges.
View from the under-construction pergola on the lower meadow.
Serra, umbrella, St. Louis, rainy day
A few weekends back I visited my dear friend Marilu in St. Louis. I had never been to St. Louis before. I love the experience of exploring a new place. This is my favorite photo from the weekend. It was taken in the back yard of The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, from inside a Richard Serra sculpture there. The sculpture was commissioned as part of the building’s design, and Serra collaborated with architect Tadao Ando. These guys are art-world rock stars, and as art-world rock stars go they I put them in a category of people who have earned the awe that surrounds them. It was an overcast, rainy day, hence the umbrella. I always love the experience of walking into one of Serra’s spirals, which compress space, reorient the horizon (hey, where is the horizon anymore?), disorient their visitors while tantalizing them. The feeling I am most reminded of hearkens to childhood, when I’d find a secret space. A path in the woods, perhaps. Or a mysterious attic. When fascination could easily trump fear, because I knew too little to envision what kind of danger might be around the corner. I almost feel like that walking through one of Serra’s spirals.
I walked into the middle, looked up, then turned to wait for Marilu and her umbrella to arrive, and then I snapped this image.
Postscript: It’s been a Very Serra Spring, because I also visited a Serra on the campus of Princeton University recently. And this is where I have to publicly apologize for touching the Serra, which Marilu scolded me about. Of course she runs a sculpture park. And I would never argue with her, she’s too tough.
"The Hedgehog and the Fox" and me