Random summer thoughts like seeds scattering in the wind
By Steve Hill
The helicopters invaded a couple of weeks ago. They landed on our male-pattern baldness yard and will soon sprout a tiny forest of maples everywhere, mainly because we haven’t cleaned them up yet.
I’m talking, of course, about the double samaras dropped by the red maple in our yard, those dual-winged seed pods that whirl through the air, each flitting about and looking for the one place to land that will make it most difficult for us to spot and pull out the little seedlings.
Truth be told, we’d have more green on our little plot of paradise if we let them all grow, because we sure don’t have much grass.
The seed pods are a useful metaphor for thoughts on summer right now. They seem scattered, multitudinous, troublesome, random, directionless and impermanent, but also entertaining, hopeful and maybe even worth cultivating here and there.
National Trails Day passes, along with much more
Elementary and secondary schools won’t be out until about the time these words are published, and we’ll still be a couple of weeks away from the vernal equinox, but I’ve already declared the start of summer. Now I’m wondering where the whole thing went.
I utterly missed National Trails Day on June 3, and with it, Walk Wisconsin on the Green Circle Trail and several events on the Ice Age Trail. I missed the first free Levitt AMP concert in Pfiffner Park June 1. I didn’t go to a single park all weekend, despite trying.
In trying to plan later events (a trip to see family in Texas, some Ice Age Trail excursions, a possible Yellowstone trip, other camping trips) so that they do not conflict with the pile – no, heap – no, mountain – of conflicts that continues to grow even as I attempt to forecast the future, my head spins like a tiny pod of maple seeds.
Where did summer disappear to already?
OK, deep breath.
The trails are still there, and there’s another Levitt AMP concert Thursday, June 8, and every Thursday at 6 p.m. through Aug. 3 (except during Riverfront Rendezvous).
The Rendezvous is still there. Our local, state and national parks are still here. It’s going to be fine.
And church picnics. I went to two different ones, one of them twice, this weekend, in addition to a couple of great indoor activities – a fantastic senior music recital and a couple of stops at that most popular of leisure destinations, which is Sports Universe at Universal Couch Potato Park.
But there’s nothing like church picnics. At St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, where we also attended Mass early Saturday evening, we heard a short, pre-picnic homily from Rev. Jerzy Rebacz (a sage in these matters) reminding us to think about the meaning of community and to serve our community.
I tried to concentrate despite being in the standing-room-only portion of the crowd, which happened to be just in front of the New Glarus truck, parked with taps outward but behind the temporary counter under the main tent in St. Joseph’s parking lot.
It is good that the truck was not in business yet. It was hard enough to concentrate with the strong, warm breezes trying to burst open the loudly flapping tent panels, or maybe even just lift us all to some higher place where nobody is fussing at anyone else.
Church picnics are generally full of good folks and they all mean well, even if some of them, once they get to talking, express views about immigrants that don’t quite seem to jibe with the fact that everyone is at a picnic with a Polish priest and polka music and nachos and a bunch of prizes that come from our largest trading partner, China.
That’s when we finish our bratwurst and say, “Nice meeting you,” and then head out into the sun to see what the kids are up to and maybe check to be sure the New Glarus truck is being properly supported.
Speaking of visitors
The closest I came to a trail was getting invited to come meet British Ice Age Trail thru-hiker Jill Rager, who arrived in Wisconsin in early May and plans to finish up her hike on the trail by the end of the month.
Jill has a well-planned effort that involves staging her daily walks from three separate “base camps” – rentals in Wheeler, Wausau and Madison, plus support from her partner (who drove her to starting points and picked her up at ending points during her first couple of weeks), her father (on the last portion of the trip), and “trail angels,” or folks who just help out with various aid at various points along the way.
As of early in the week of June 7, Jill had already completed more than half her walk and was on the trail’s eastern bifurcation, south of Devil’s Lake and heading toward Madison.
Rager said she had chosen the Ice Age because she wanted to do a walk of approximately a thousand miles while seeing part of another country, and the Ice Age was about the right length for the time she had. As it turns out, she will probably be the first international to make the official list of Thousand-Milers, which still stands at 148 people since 1979 (but has not been updated since February).
Hosted by Plover “Thousand-Miler Wannabe” and trail angel Barbara Feltz, the gathering also brought together local members of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, including Portage County chapter president Julie Schneider, Marathon County thousand-miler Gail Piotrowski, and other ardent Ice Age supporters Kathy and Steve Kehl, Ruth Sommers, and Debbie Krogwold.
Those wanting to follow Rager’s blog can find it at iceagetrail.wordpress.com.
Thoughts, helicoptering toward the end
I discovered a great website called www.swimmingholes.org that has plenty of information on various swimming holes around the country. It’s woefully short on swimming holes in Wisconsin, with only seven entries total, but it occurs to me that nobody ever talks about swimming holes in Wisconsin because practically every place in the state is already a swimming hole. We’re blessed that way.
One of the entries, though, is for the Eau Claire River in the Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire area. Each entry includes information on bathing suits – whether they are required, customary, or optional.
Apparently, the entry for the Eau Claire was recorded by a visitor who saw a couple of skinny-dippers, so the web entry notes that suits are “optional.” This is how we know that the site’s authors and moderators are not from Wisconsin.
Seen on Facebook this weekend: “If this place has too much of anything, it is ticks and sporting goods stores.” Also seen on Facebook: a home video, locally produced and worthy of “The Blair Witch Project,” with proper low-light, shaky-cam production and suspenseful narration, leading up to a blood-curdling scream and the revealing of a deadly and terrifying creature – a June bug on a local patio.
Watch out, everyone, for ticks, June bugs, naked folks, long homilies and dizzying thoughts. And relax. It’s not so bad out there, even if we can’t do it all at once.