Well, our journey to “Metaphorical Maine” has come to a close, I think. We had set aside 3 weeks and actually came back in 10 days. We added a day trip after two days of rest, but I think we’re home-based again. Steve has re-activated his online bookselling business, so that means we’ll be no more than 2 days away from home now. Did we actually go to Maine? No. The weather report for the northeast was predicting “rainy and cold” for the entire first week. We figured that might dampen our spirits, so we headed south. We ended up staying the first night in exactly the same spot where we stayed on our first trip together 4 years ago…in the car, pulled into a picnic area in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. We slept in the car from 3 a.m. until dawn, then found a proper campsite at the Pound Lake Hollow area. We enjoyed hiking on Beaver Trail 006 in the forest and the Rim Rock Trail. There was no moon; the stars were bright enough to guide us on a night hike (no flashlight) the second day down to the lake where we startled a beaver. At least I think it was a beaver. We never actually saw him, but either he was pounding the surface of the lake at intervals from different spots with his powerful tail, or someone was throwing bricks into the still, dark water from somewhere very well hidden! Here’s a little gallery of shots from the Shawnee National Forest.
Steve and I had a wonderful adventure driving across the state and ended up at Wyalusing State Park, where the Wisconsin River dumps into the Mississippi. The wind was stiff and the air was cold, but the skies were cloudless and the wildflowers plentiful. It did get down to freezing overnight, but that didn’t bother us. We woke up at about 5 a.m. because the moon was so bright and took our traditional night hike (without flashlights), cheeks burning from the cold. We burrowed back into the warmth of the tent, well-padded by every layer of clothing we brought and woke up a few hours later after the sun had begun to thaw things out. We spent a lot of time talking about our relationship and our future and came back after only one night because our energy had shifted to getting things accomplished at home and starting new jobs on Monday. Why? So we can fashion a life that allows us to travel further and get away from city life for longer periods of time.
I took over one hundred photos and will dole them out in little batches. Today’s photos are of Woodman, Wisconsin on the Wisconsin River, population 89 (in 2009). I give Steve credit for spotting these storefronts on Main Street and doing a U-turn so that I could take pictures.
We also spotted along this road, which parallels the Wisconsin river, 7 wild turkeys. Yesterday was the beginning of the first week of spring turkey hunting. I jumped out of the car to try to get a picture of 4 of them in a stubbly corn field, but they trotted away. Yup, turkeys trot. Seems like they enjoy a healthy population and plenty of habitat. I don’t know if anyone still makes clothing from their feathers or if they’re featured on the menu at the local diner, but I do know that the WI Dep’t. of Natural Resources posts access to public hunting grounds all along the riverway. We took one of those roads and got only so far in the car, then walked the rest of the way to the river. How far? This far.
So, that’s the first installment of pictures and the first part of our trip. Now for the poetry. While I’ve been away, the NaPoWriMo folks have posted 3 prompts. I decided to simply take my pick today and chose a topic that suited my mood. The following poem is based on “an experience of the 5 senses”.
Within the heavy, smothering cocoon of cotton, wool and leather,
My limbs begin to shift and stir.
A sharp, fresh draft of cooler air snakes through the cracks in my massive nest.
My nostrils flare to greet it like a seal’s in sea ice portals.
The tease is smokey and crisp, like the promise of bacon,
Enticing me to surface. I blink my barely moistened eyes
And try to comprehend the letters, upside down and inside out,
Imprinted on my nylon tent.
The blue light brightens there, the shadows growing more defined,
As rapid-drumming woodpeckers and the two-note chickadee
Introduce a chorus of individual calls crisscrossing overhead.
The crackle from my dried-out throat is sadly put to shame.
My tongue lies limp and listless, longing for a bathe in good, strong coffee.
My will and my reluctant muscles begin a lazy conversation,
Ignoring the foregone conclusion.