Monday, August 11, 2008
Today you get stories in pictures. The first (actually illustrated by the photo below) is a story I told a couple of weeks ago, about the wonderful bike ride I took on Mackinac Island the day before my biking friends headed out on their Upper Peninsula loop. Angie Mayr took this picture. It shows Janet Zimmerman (on the left) and me, and a tiny part of Lake Michigan.
Since that day (which really was a high point in the annals of my biking history), I've done two more short rides. As I think I reported, on the last day of the UP ride, I did the first 11 miles, into a headwind, not knowing that I had pneumonia. And this past week, on Friday, my friend Bonnie Wiesel and I rode from my house to the Olbrich Botanic Garden on Madison's east side (6 or 7 miles one-way) to see the butterfly exhibit. We saw quite a few butterflies emerging from their chrysalises--an amazing sight, because it happens literally in the blink of an eye. But really, I thought the people watching outdid the butterflies. I haven't seen so many babies and toddlers in decades! Plus little herds of day care kids and day campers, each herd wearing t-shirts of a particular identifying color. After we'd had our fill of butterflies and children, we walked a bit in the outside gardens, ate our Power Bars, and rode home. It was a beautiful day, and a lovely ride, for which I have Bonnie to thank, since it was her idea.
The other picture is more recent--from last Tuesday's reading in Chicago. Six of the contributors to the anthology Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes read at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, part of a summer-long Read Green, Live Green project sponsored by the Chicago Public Library. The participants: in the front row, Alison Swan, who edited the book and lives in Saugatuck, Michigan; Gail Louise Siegel, from Evanston, Illinois; and me. In the back row: Judith Arcana, who came all the way from Portland, Oregon (she used to be a Chicagoan); Susan Firer, currently Poet Laureate of Milwaukee; and Donna Seaman, of Chicago, who initiated the reading. Not shown in the photo: the great blue heron, the V of geese, and the rat who joined us as we read in the courtyard behind the museum. (To be honest, I didn't see the rat, but others did.)
The reading was an amazing event, well attended by an enthusiastic audience, including many people who were taking part in a workshop on the Great Lakes. The library provided an elegant reception spread of delicious hors d'oeuvres, and in addition to paying us honoraria, put us up in the Talbott Hotel downtown. I'm not accustomed to staying in hotels that provide terry cloth bathrobes and turn down the covers (leaving little chocolates on the pillows) before bedtime. But I could get used to it!
I had been concerned that, because of the pneumonia, I wouldn't be able to go to Chicago. But I was--and am--feeling much better, and the driving was a breeze, especially because my friend Janet lent me her I-Pass and I just whizzed through the innumerable toll plazas on I-90.
Now, on to the next adventure: getting together with my sons and my daughters-out-law at a cabin in the Boundary Waters (northern Minnesota). More on that next week!