Friday, October 17, 2008

Time of transitions

Fall is a time of transition. The weather may be bright and beautiful during the day, but there is a chill in the breeze. The leaves turn from their summer wardrobe color to the brilliant “warm” shades of autumn. Animals get ready to hibernate, and humans in the north, get our outside chores done, because we can’t paint, rake or garden when it is cold and damp. Our windows must be washed before the storm windows are put up. The flower pots are dumped because the plants have been frozen. In many families, the children go back to school, but in my family, this is the first fall we’ve had no one in school since 1985.

People are always in some sort of transition, but it becomes more poignant when there are milestones. Our recent family milestones have included our mothers becoming 90 years old, children graduating from college, children moving into their careers, grandchildren arriving, and our own nest emptying.

We had the opportunity to take two trips this fall, including one to western Minnesota in September. I knew there were lakes in the area, but I expected the country side to be flat. But it is a very rolling countryside with lots of lakes and ponds. In fact, one county alone has over 1000 lakes. We visited 5 beautiful state parks on our trip that was also work related.

Last week we went to eastern Wisconsin, along Lake Michigan, to see several relatives. We stayed in a town where my family has been since about 1890. Currently, two elderly family members are in nursing homes, so the family presence there has dwindled to two homes, two people. My sister visits there frequently and has gotten involved in the local historical society. She is trying to help save our stories before they disappear with the people.

Traveling back west across Wisconsin, we went to the Ice Age Visitor Center to learn about how land was shaped by the glaciers and the Kettle Moraine area. I visited this area when I was a child and it was time to learn a bit more about how the unusual land formations came about. [Scientists still have no idea of what caused the kames.] We also stopped for 5 minutes at an overlook of the Horicon Marsh Wildlife area, which is a stopover spot for thousands of migrating waterfowl. We did see, barely in the distance for it is a huge place, some Canada Geese. Visiting this spot has been a dream since childhood, but I’ve always thought one had to wake up at 4:00 am to see the birds.

Southwestern Wisconsin is also a land of hills and valleys, but these are much steeper hills and valleys, along the Mississippi River and inland from there. In the past, many of these valleys were settled by Norwegian immigrant farmers. There seems to be a Lutheran church on many of the hills even when there has never been a nearby town. Most of these churches are two or three point parishes with attendance barely keeping some of them going. This is now the home area of my daughter and her family, at beautiful Sugar Creek Bible Camp.

We also visited Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa climbed the path to the 350’ bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, and drove up to the top in Wyalusing State Park, south of Prairie Du Chien. At Effigy Mounds, over 200 mounds of the early Indian culture are preserved. There are thought to be (or were) 10,000 of these mounds in the upper Midwest area of the US. We then drove up the Mississippi Valley, on the Wisconsin side until we crossed at LaCrosse, then up the Minnesota side, to my husband’s hometown. He grew up with the view of Lake Pepin right out of the picture window! We included an outing to Frontenac State Park on a day of peak fall color.

Ten days flew by; we had to return to home and day to day activities (and catching up.) We would have prolonged the sightseeing at more state parks, but we traveled home in the rain. After arriving home, we found that our leaves had transitioned to "fallen" and the river had gone from the lowest level in 30 years to a medium level.

My intention was to put links in this post, which I did, but suddenly, parts of sentences started moving around all by themselves. Now I'm tired of sitting here. Check back next week for links and pictures.

1 comment:

And what do you think?