Every week for the past two months, I have driven over to my sister-in-law’s to spend the day and play Flower Shop. She and my brother live thirty-plus miles west of the rest of the family. This morning was my last trip over for this visit, and I realized that this drive was one of my favorite parts of my stay here.
The landscape of southern Wisconsin is one of open spaces and rolling hills. The hills are sparsely dotted with large farmsteads and small farmettes, large red or white barns, and silos pointing to the sky. The farmhouses are mostly two-story and boxy, with porches and hanging pots of colorful flowers or ferns swaying. The lawns are neatly mown, with flower gardens breaking up the expanse of grass. I pass a cemetery or two, and drive through a couple of settlements and a small Victorian town.
The fields are what I find remarkably soothing. I’ve watched them slowly leap (yes, I know that is contradictory, but that is my perception) from black and freshly tilled to lush and richly green. They are broken by scalloped tree lines and often a woods island. Those woods islands in the middle of fields, I’ve always found to be a curiosity. I am glad they remain.
The exhilaration I’ve felt driving here is liberating. With Van Halen’s “Jump” cranked up loud enough to make my ears bleed, my little dog, Hattie, curled in the back seat and the road and the day stretched before me, I breathe deeply and sing loudly over these comforting country roads. It feels wonderful.