1. The Garden Under the Blazing Sun, Again.
2. Little Wagon Provided By Our Hosts.
Child #4 had broken his leg in May and had just begun walking again, with a tremendous limp, which prompted our innkeeper to produce this cart for going around the garden trails in. He did not stay in the cart very long however and ending up walking most of the way, being more discomfited by the heat than by his injury.
3. Group Photo of Boys, Cooksville, Wisconsin, 7/2012
It is not always so harmonious as this picture makes it appear, of course, but right now they are really best friends for the most part. They play and sleep and do everything together almost all the time. I do not want to make the obvious prediction and lament that it will not always be so, because maybe it won't be, in every case at least. I don't have a great feel yet for what kind of attitude to the family any of them are likely to develop in adolescence and adulthood. Even by age ten I already felt a great desire to be away from my parents and be alone all the time--I did not have any brothers--and even today though I know it is irrational and petty I hold them responsible enough for my lack of social popularity, my total lack of any talents that would allow me entry into one of the more dynamic sectors of society, and my inability to ever focus on and progress in a serious adult career that I cannot bring myself to behave around them with more than a cold cordiality, and if my wife did not insist on this as my duty I do not think I would speak or have any contact with them at all; certainly I would seek none out. I don't detect any signs of that sort of attitude in these children yet, but I hope I will not be surprised if they should develop such later on. Still, not to be maudlin, but when I bought a ticket for the 580 million dollar lottery drawing my oldest son was concerned that we would win and we would have to move out of our house and he would have to leave his school ('but your new school would instill in you the qualities of casual superiority and domination that will drive your less fortunate social competitors insane with envy', I tried to remonstrate, but he did not get it). This is the same child who wants a manual typewriter for Christmas, so there is truly reason to worry that being raised by me is setting him up for unpleasant disappointments when he gets out somewhat amongst the thrash and brawl of the world, and I think it likely he will make it out there at some point.
4. Wisconsin Has a Distinctive and Well-Situated State Capitol
State capitols are a recurrent theme with us. Children like recurrent themes. We live in one of these cities, and we went to school in another one, so this was a natural one to adopt. There are still quite a few that we have yet to visit in-depth despite literally walking past them on numerous occasions (Boston, Montepelier) or passing frequently through the towns (Trenton, Harrisburg).
5. Horseplay in the Main Rotunda.
Wisconsin's capitol building is huge. They have their Supreme Court in there as well as the State Library and several other governmental departments (the historical society?) that have separate homes in other states. The inside is the usual classic marbled and mildly ornate Victorian era U.S. capitol building, though this one has especially attractive antiquated light fixtures and signs.
6. State Street, Outside a Sports-Type Bar That Literary Types Probably Don't Frequent.
State Street connects the capitol building with the University of Wisconsin, to which we walked down and hung out for a while in the Union. Never having attended a regular University of any substantial size, let alone a sports and research colossus like this one, I am always fascinated to visit--just sitting on one of couches near a bathroom I saw three or four academics who exuded 'major league intellectual development' pass through and meet up with graduate students or junior colleagues, very often attractive and driven-looking young women, to take up whatever serious study they were collaborating on. This is all most heady stuff for me of course, so after letting me have a gander at a few commanding intellectuals and Big 10 co-eds and other college people my wife wisely nudged us back again towards the real world.
7. Another View Back up State Street Towards the Capitol
State Street is kind of a big deal in Madison I guess, for tourists anyway. It is not very big, compared to what a similar district would be in a major city, though I liked it. It has a lot of bars and cafes and college type shops, and the kind of shops that I guess appeal to the bohemian/college educated demographic. There were one or two fairly large used book stores that I would have liked to peek into. Unfortunately with so many children I could not actually go into any of these places, but they are the kinds of things that hopefully, I will live long enough and have enough time to do again someday.
8. The Great Windmill of Cooksville
The whole place is attractively laid out. I found the whole are of South Central Wisconsin to be aesthetically pleasant. Obviously there are Wal-Marts and strip malls in places and parking garages in the cities and so on, but only a small part of the geography there is blighted in this way. For the most part, as I noted in an earlier post, it does not look all that different from what it would have looked like 50 or 60 years ago. Maybe some of the smaller towns would have been more bustling, but even these did not look so badly off as some of their counterparts in upstate New York and Pennsylvania.
9. Hitting the Road Out of Wisconsin
This is one place I really don't know if I will ever get back to. It would be nice to be able to skewer that whole region of the country a la Evelyn Waugh or even a third rate hack New York writer and say "Good riddance" and have all of the sneering people in our haute literary intelligentsia nod approvingly at my taste and sensibility, but unfortunately I actually liked it there, and I cannot summon up that necessary feeling of revulsion for geographically inferior locales that the would-be second and third rank urban intellectual needs to be able to produce in such instances.