“I’m up in the woods, I’m down on my mind. I’m building a sill, to slow down the time.” – Bon Iver
I’ve heard tell of a magical place; a country of beer, cheese, and flannel plaid. So enamored are its natives, they evangelize the land in ecstatic whispers, eyes alight, “Wisconsinn.”
After months of cement seas, my insides thrill at the verdant stretches rolling past the window upon entry into the kingdom of the badger. It’s so green! Under my thrifted men’s woolen sweater, I’m craving the crisp renewal of spring, outside and in, and have come to find it away from the city.
An impudent move it would be, embarking guideless into this territory. Luckily, my companion is one of its fervent missionaries, as evidenced in her nervous twitching and delight upon crossing the state line. We are not headed completely off the grid, and the trip is scarcely over an hour. Exiting the highway, we pass a boutique hotel in the former Playboy Club as signs stretch upward calling out “CHEESE” and “BRATS.”
A local market offers all the necessary goods our short stay. Plump mushrooms by the bushel, bread, spinach, pasta, and naturally, myriad varieties of cheese – everything fresh. Too brisk still to sit outside, I curl up on a yellow couch watching the lake waves wash the shore as the words of my book do my brain while I read read read. “To town,” we exclaim come lunchtime. The quaint ville’s streets will crowd with luxury cars and Polo attired summerers in a few months, but for now it’s all ours.
I sip a delicious local brew (New Glarus) to a do0- wop soundtrack, my glass sticking a little to the plastic checkered tablecloth. The shoreline promenade is empty, but we’re filling up on crispy fries and pulled pork that is ‘cued on the premises. Exhaling all my weary city ennui, I gleefully digest the mermaid-laden kitch of the themed eatery.
Lulled by the waning daylight, the afternoon is napped away in ultimate indulgence. A waterside hike, a homemade dinner of our market spoils, not too much wine, and we are on our way. My first Wisconsin sojourn is too brief, but satisfying. It’s still chilly outside, but by the time the skyline grins at us I feel like spring. Realizing Wisconsin’s woods, hills, lakes, and green fields remind me of home, I feel close and distant at the same time. Perhaps this lovely land is not so foreign after all.