I’ve been home just a little over 48 hours and already I’m looking at things with different eyes and asking lots of questions in a way that makes me feel like I’m channeling Mark Wagler. My good-humored spouse has put up with hearing about everything from the Prentice Loader (which he actually didn’t know about, much to my surprise) to popped wild rice. (I tried making it–not having deer tallow, I substituted peanut oil, but used to much; Wayne was right–just a coating in the pan. Tasty regardless.) But what I really notice is that I’m asking lots of questions. Two examples:
1. Last night, to keep my 14-year-old at the dinner table, I started interviewing him about the garage sale he’d taken part in earlier that day. “So, what was the most interesting interaction you had with a customer?” [an exchange with a high schooler about Pokemon cards.] My final question, “what would you do differently next year?” engaged him so much he sat back down and went on at length about getting the right combination of “more stuff” and “stuff people want.” I learned a lot and believe I’ve found a key to teenage interaction. However, to be honest, it doesn’t always work: “What’s your earliest memory of our camping weekends in Dodgeville?” got the reply, “I forget.”
2. And then tonight, we’re driving home from a corn boil at our CSA farm in Cross Plains where we connected with the young farmers and met their adorable 9-month-old and her doting grandparents. Talk about your changing landscapes, the grandpa is a BIG farmer whose company used to supply 20% of the green beans in the US–one son has continued in that business and works in Texas, while the other put himself through school to show his dad he was “doing it all the wrong way.” The young farmers are working on about 30 acres, so much smaller than many places we visited. But the pride the big farmer has in his organic son and his thriving business was incredible.
During the dinner we heard the bells ring from a church in the distance and decided to check it out as it looked so lovely in the fading light: St. Mary of Pine Bluff Catholic Church was in the midst of a chicken/ham dinner with beer tent and games. We stopped so hubby and son could get brats, and I found myself in conversation with the priest Fr. Heilman who told me to go ahead and check out the sanctuary because it was so beautiful. I asked about the ethnic background of the parish, and he said Irish and German, noting that the split was visible on the inside with St. Patrick on one side and St. Boniface on the other, and that parishioners situated themselves accordingly. Of the 10 or so stained glass windows that carried the name of dedicatees/donors, only one was Irish: Mary Molloy. It was a lovely church, with a new addition that showed much care in blending with the original structure. The priest provided more information about their traditional sung Latin services, reminded me that I could easily drive there from Madison, noted that he’d grown up just ten miles away, and told me he no longer does polka masses; he loves the polka, mind you, but doesn’t believe any longer that the polka belongs on the “inside” with the mass.
I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have either stopped to check out the picnic (“let’s get home”) nor been so bold as to talk with the priest.
Now I just need to get myself a cool straw hat…
Thanks for a life-changing week, and special thanks to Judy for the collaborative journal tutorial and for the split-toe mocassin picture.