Wisconsin has a rolling heart of the country beauty. Living near the city we often forget how wide and bountiful the US is. Although on climbs there is often only one thought in mind, the next pedal stroke, I find cycling a good place to work on poems. It can be a solitary moving meditation, a place to pray.
After three days on the road, a stay at a legendary bad motel “Ikes”, and a thirty mile stretch of rolling hills, a glass of New Glarus Old Milwaukee Belgian Red hits the spot. Hunger may be the best sauce, but this Lambic like brew which tasted of cherries is the single best beer I have known.
If you start in Naperville Illinois at the crack of dawn and head toward the Fox River bike path, you’ll catch the mist rising above the ponds. Then Northward bound along the mighty Fox river the daffodils burst into sight and the frog princes croak their song of undying love to all the frog maidens as you silently pedal by.
Up near the Wisconsin border in Richmond after sixty miles or so along the path you’ll find a small fast-food joint still attended to by pretty teens who’ll take your order and bring you a hot-dog or a rootbeer and a smile. It was a long day riding, about 73 miles total and I hadn’t seen a Dog N Suds since the 1970’s. We pulled our weary seats in and enjoyed a root-beer as celebration of a day well done.
It was 1973 she was sixteen, I was seventeen and her first real job was car-hop and the local Dog N Suds. That year root-beer was the taste and flavor of youthful romance. She brought the root-beer out in a frosted mug ( just like the old days ) and it was lightly carbonated, slightly sweet with just a hint of licorice, just as good as I remembered. I told the story to our server, did we look so young at sixteen too, and she smiled and told me there were only a handful of franchises left in the whole country, a place of distant memories and tastes.
We’re a popcorn family. Popped up in the microwave with a little melted butter and salt added, eaten with chopsticks ( the kids discovered this to keep from getting their fingers greasy and it’s become a family tradition ) popcorn is the perfect movie food for at home while we sprawl across the couch or lounge in the recliner chair.
But can popcorn be gourmet ? Can you get popcorn non GMO grown from a family farm? Will it taste better ? The answer is a resounding yes.
It pops up with a crisp fresh flavor, and the butter and salt burst on your tongue. Alas, it’s chopstickability is the same as regular popcorn, but for those of us without greasy fingers – we just say it lasts longer. We tried butterfly ( which pops with a little hull ) and mushroon ( which doesn’t taste like mushroom, but pops into a bigger, rounder form ) I think either will delight.
You can find this popcorn, grown in the beautiful state of Iowa here: http://www.grubbpopcorn.com/ It’s a special treat to go direct to the family farmer.
Happy popping, maybe next time I can convince my wife to use salt from the Camargue ( Fleur de Sel de Camargue ) we just can’t tell my youngest who happened to visit the salt marshes in France where this salt is harvested. “Dad”, she said – “You know what flamingo’s do in the marshes.”
It’s spring, when thoughts turn to love and cars. Fondly I recall my first new car, a 1974 Toyota Corolla. I was so green I didn’t know you could negotiate the cost so I paid the full sticker price. I went in to pick it up tried to haggle with the salesman and he said, “You can’t do that.”
“Oh, OK” What did I know about the world?
Imagine $4,300.00 for a new car. It thrilled to drive it off the lot and if I lurched about trying to learn to drive a stick, that excited too.
It was the perfect car to drive about the Midwest for rugby matches, including the Ohio Under 23 select side match against Michigan. I drove with “Moose” and we won the game, on the
way home my mileage was way down and I was sure my car new car was failing. Imagine my relief when I discovered Moose’s bulk cost me six miles per gallon.
Now I dream of a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Corvette, but somehow I don’t think they’ll thrill like a Grey Toyota with a motor smaller than Harley Hog.
I’d love to hear about your first car.
We had such good comments, that I invite you to share a picture if you have it…
In 1982 I was in Paris with two friends for a couple days, a side trip from rugby tour in England. We saw the Jeu De Paume, the Louvre and napped in the Tuileries near an organ grinder with his monkey. The last afternoon we went through the Pigalle, the red-light district and home of some famous theatres and galleries. Even then it was much as you might expect – though sunlight reveals much that evening hides.
As we walked along, there were hawkers, like at a traveling carnival – bellowing out at every entrance, enticing us in – though we didn’t speak the language, we understood the terms. In front of one – three rough looking men saw us and exclaiming “show, show” rushed us in.
It was an old theatre, once grand, now showing wear and tear of time – and they sat us down and offered us drinks. As they went off, we realized our risk – alone in the old theatre – we quickly drew straws to see who’d drink first in case the drinks were drugged, and planned a mad dash out in case this was a robbery or worse – but the beer was just beer – and they guys kept saying – show, wait, drink – and we’d already paid.
After a while, an older lady, probably the cleaning crew hustled past us toward the stage, and then the lights went on, and the music began and the curtain opened and there was our cleaning lady, in a bright red corset and heels dancing a can-can for us.
We gave her a standing ovation, and at the end we left, poorer, entertained and wiser.
YARS – Yet Another Rugby Story
See you in March….
My team had a good bye lunch for one of the fellows who’s rolling off. Eventually the talk turned to everyone’s favorite meals growing up. Since some of the guys are quiet, I try to draw them out a bit.
We had Irish, Slovak, Hispanic and Indian ideas offered up.
“What’s your favorite family meal?” I asked J.
“We just ate whatever there was, there usually wasn’t much.”
Silence from the rest of the team.
J continued, “It was the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and my parents were taken from the university and placed on a farm to be laborers. In fact, I had developed a fever that wouldn’t subside and my family took me to the hospital, but there were no doctors. As they left to return home one of the janitors followed them out of the building. He told them that their baby was very sick, and he would die if he did not receive medicine. It turns out the janitor was a doctor who had been reassigned, and by speaking to J’s parents the doctor was risking his life.”
J’s parents got the medicine and herbs the doctor advised and the little boy was saved.
We all sat for a minute, and I felt how precious life is, and how fragile it can be. I am often reminded that when the world looks bleakest, that heroes and goodness remain.
Here’s to everyday heroes who do good, you chance might be right around the corner.