Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In the Country

We left the city behind and drove westward. The beginning of a week-long vacation in the country. We were going to cram as much biking as we could into five and a half days in western Wisconsin - known for its multitudes of well-tended bike trails. We biked on graveled trails, converted from old railroad tracks, sometimes catching a glimpse of the Mississippi. But most of the time it was miles and miles of verdant foliage that we saw. Prairie lands and wildflowers surrounded us. White and black butterflies flew alongside us from time to time. But it was the dragonflies who were always flitting ahead of us, appearing out of nowhere to shepherd us along. They were our ever-solicitous companions.

We returned to a cabin on a farm after a day of biking. Ruby, the affectionate dog, greeted us, nuzzling his nose and licking us with abandon. The barn cat, a gray tabbly E nicknamed Twiggy because of her scrawniness, stood as sentinel on our porch. I thought of our two cats, now at home and well-fed, and their lives of relative ease compared to that of Ruby's.

In the mornings, we awakened to the lowing of the milk cows coming from the barn. We walked the few yards between our cabin and the main farmhouse where we were greeted by Ole and Janice, our hosts, standing in the doorway of their home. They led us to our seats at the oaken dining table where a hearty breakfast awaited us. One of cheese frittata, golden waffles still piping hot, and homemade cinnamon buns. Ole, a farmer all his life, talked feelingly of a cow he saw maltreated by a neighboring farmer. His eyes flashed, indignant, at the cruelty directed at a fellow sentient being.

After breakfast we got on our bikes and cycled for hours, finally stopping at the village of Elroy for lunch. We walked into the only coffeehouse in town - a Christian-themed one, with announcements of local Christian fellowship meetings tacked on the doorway and on the walls inside. The day was blindingly sunny and we were glad to come indoors.

I peered at the menu behind the counter, my eyes adjusting to the relative dimness inside, and was delighted to see a list of loose-leaf teas. An unexpected and welcome find at this oasis in the country. We sat down with our grilled cheese sandwiches and cups of tea. My Assam never tasted so good -dark, brisk, and strong, made more perfect by its serendipity.


A. said...

Have a great trip! It sounds like you've picked a perfect place to stay -- look forward to details.

Cha sen said...

Thanks, A. It was a great trip but it's nice again to back in the ciy with my full stash of teas.