We are still in Madison, Wisconsin. It has been a wonderful place to hole up, take ten days of Bikram yoga classes, sleep on a Thermapedic mattress at our AirBnB, and see several of the local sights. The week began with more chill breezes – it just seems like to Loren and me like eternal winter with a few hours of summer sprinkled in. Now, at the end of the week, it is much warmer, harking the summer heat to come. Aside from the weather, we started our week at a Unitarian Sunday service. Afterwards we had a tour of the original Unitarian Meeting House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who was a lifelong Unitarian. This congregation has outgrown that original space for a Sunday morning but it is still in use for smaller services.
On Memorial Day Loren and I visited Taliesin, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright, which he built on a hill where he had spent much of his childhood. We learned that the word Taliesin is Celtic and means Shining Brow, Wright’s concept for the brow of the hill. We also learned that he was originally named Frank Lincoln Wright, that he later took on the Lloyd in honor of his mother’s family name. That explains a red tile that we have seen on some of his buildings that show his initials: FLLW.
We had wanted to have a picnic on – where else but Picnic Point – at the end of a long stretch of narrow peninsula with room just enough for a wide path with trees and shrubbery on either side. However it was either too hot at midday, or on the one evening we ventured out, we noticed the black clouds behind us, so we took our rain gear. Well, just after snapping a photo of the capital from the point as we opened our food containers, it began to squall. So we packed up and walked all the way back to eat in our car. At least we walked the peninsula, and were rewarded with a beautiful double rainbow after the storm had passed.
We took a day trip to a unique setting that John Steinbeck had raved about in his book, Travels with Charley. However Loren and I agree more with author Bill Steigerwald’s assessment: “I don’t know what John Steinbeck saw in the Wisconsin Dells that was so ‘enchanting.’” The waters and rock formations are now hidden in comparison to the surrounding glitz of hotels, amusement parks and other tourist attractions that have sprung up in the area. I feel fortunate in that I had seen The Dells from a driving trip with my grandparents in my youth, before the commercialism obscured them, but alas that was before I could truly appreciate them. It was still valuable for us to be there because when I saw an amphibious “Wisconsin Duck” vehicle, I was struck with the good memory that I had ridden in one like that 45 years ago with my grandparents.
Near to the Dells, in Baraboo, is the International Crane Foundation where Loren and I took a two hour tour to see pairs of all 15 worldwide species of cranes, as well as had a good walk around the extensive grounds. I was thrilled to see the Gray Crowned Crane again, which we first saw in Africa. It proudly wears the colors of the Ugandan national flag. The endangered Whooping Crane pair is presently nesting. This organization has managed to help bring their population from a scarce 21 in the 1970’s to now over 600, as well as to provide a place for the vulnerable Blue Crane to nest.
We also took the National Historic Merrimac Ferry – a cable ferry, to reach a park for a short hike on the Ice Age Trail to Gibraltar Rock. That evening it was thrilling to see the Golden State Warriors win their first game in the basketball finals this week. We look forward to watching Game 2 on Sunday evening.
We took two walks this week at dusk at Tiedeman’s Pond,
which inspired my most recent poem:
A Walk at Tiedeman’s Pond
From the lengthy wood plank boardwalk
broken only by sections of earthen trail,
we were thrilled to see many muskrats,
eating lush prairie grasses, gathering twigs,
swimming to and from their nests of sticks.
Great blue herons stand still in its waters,
ducks and ducklings swim around and feed,
tiny gray rabbits randomly hop across our path,
while silent herons delight in overhead flight
and noisy red-wing blackbirds flit about.
A neighborhood prairie lands restoration site
for peaceable coexistence of these creatures,
also home for fish to jump and frogs to croak,
to allow songbirds to sing the day into dusk,
afore the unusual call of a nesting sand hill crane.
Claire Adalyn Wright
We are sorry not to be with dear friends of UUFS this weekend for the celebration of a dear friend’s life… Generous both with his time and energy both at the Fellowship and with helping us prepare for our journey, and for his witty sense of humor, we already miss him.