At some point I just had to realize that I am a West Coast girl. I’ve lived in Wisconsin for nearly ten years now and when I came to the city that we live in I was pleasantly surprised. Most people have a variety of images that come to mind when they think of Wisconsin (corn, cheese, poorly attended outdoor festivals where first place prizes are given for baked goods) but our city really humbled me. It’s cultured, has great food, an amazing local scene (art, music, agriculture) and wonderful bike lanes. These reasons, along with our created community, have been the reason we stayed so long. But at some point the West called us back. I am grateful to be heading back to the ocean, the Sound, whale watching in the winter, lush islands, rainy winters, clams and oysters and green trees all year round. Yet I do have to remember what I have loved while living in WI. Here are a few of my favorite things:
1. A vegetable growing season that lasts for 5 months
2. The first snow of the year (every snow after that makes me want to weep-but the first one is lovely)
3. Thursday night dinners- Dear friends, amazing food and now children everywhere.
4. Our house- She has been a dream that we’ve created and are passing on to another family.
5. Woodman’s- Yep, I just wrote that. Happiness really is seeing Woodman’s in your rear view mirror but you can’t beat the prices or the availablity of ethnic foods.
6. Vilas Zoo- A classy, free zoo. A prefect place to take children when they need to get out.
7. The Leesons and The Spransys- Our children have grown up together and saying good bye to these two families is going to be painful.
8. The Occonomowoc cottage- The words that come to mind are refreshment and ‘a place to be yourself’. One day we’d like to provide a home like this for a community of friends.
9. The bike path- I’ve learned the joy of riding instead of always driving. It’s turned me into a different person, literally, and I can’t totally explain all of the reasons or how it has.
10. The Capitol- Because of this landmark in our city we have a very strong activist vibe here. I love the energy and movement that it inspires. Being here has challenged some areas of passivity in my own life.
11. Atwood Ave summer block party- Just to hear local bands and see neighbors makes you feel a part of a community. Who doesn’t want that?
12. The Alchemy- The best beverages on tap and sweet potato chips in jalapeno sauce.
13. Olbrich Gardens- I love to sit and read in the green house during the cold winter months. The smell of tropical flowers reminds me of living in Hawaii. For a few hours I am able to escape the soul- crushing winter.
14. 70 Deg F in May- We may have hard winters and summers but Spring is lovely.
15. Annual Pumpkin Patch trip- More community traditions with friends. When October hits I know I’ll see the photos on Facebook of old friends enjoying a tradition and I will weep.
16. Swissconsin- Who knew you could buy imported wine and fondue in Wisconsin? Apparently the Swiss helped to settle this place.
17. Even Devil’s Lake- It’s never been very impressive to me but the trips I’ve taken, especially our last one, I found beauty and enjoyed every minute.
18. Our dear friends- No explanation necessary. Leaving them will be painful as well.
19. State Street- Lovely walking street with a lot of class and character.
20. Monty’s Blue Plate Diner- Our favorite spot for a world class burger. I always love restaurants where the dress code is body piercing and sleeves of tattoos.
21. Raw milk from $3-6 a gallon. I’m entering a world where it will be at least $12 a gallon. !@#$
22. The local movement (food, art, music)- Again, this is one area that I take deep in my heart and it’s because of living here that I’ve been challenged to think differently about where things come from and how I support small businesses, struggling artists and sustainable foods. Traveling the world gave me a global perspective but living in one place for 10 years gave me the local perspective, for certain.
23. Community gardens- I love to see food and flowers grow together and our gardens decorate the bike path along a huge stretch of land.
24. Atwood Community Centre- Here is where Oliver played with a friend during his friend’s day care hours, we ate various baked goods in the amazing cafe and Chloe took her first dance class. I think Community Centers are an amazing gift to a neighborhood.
25. Living in a college town- The vibe is electric and the energy is contagious. I wouldn’t live anywhere in WI but here! We will miss you, Madison! You are much loved