Where I lived before and where I live now are less than twenty miles apart, separated by a two-lane country highway in either direction. Farm fields. Chickens. Soy beans. Wisconsin dairy.
Where I live now is just inside the city limits with 4,999 other people. We walk to the library, the parks, school, the coffee shop, antique stores, and all that. Yesterday my washer broke down and the kids and I went to the laundromat and ate sandwiches from the corner shop while we waited for our loads to dry. They each met kids from school and took some time to chase and be chased.
As I work on this book project, the one I will actually finish in one capacity or other, I have to take note of what it means to all of you when I say “Wisconsin.” As the story opens, my protagonist is rooted here, in the southwestern driftless region of the state. It’s an open, gorgeous green sloping land. The bluffs and streams, the full-bodied oak trees, the roller coaster rides up and down a regular county road are enough to bring you down into the dirt and make you want to stay.
During our new morning ritual,(one parent takes the kids to school, the other makes fresh coffee, then we sit down for half an hour outside to read and talk before work) my husband said this, “What do people who’ve never lived in Wisconsin think of it?” And that got me to realize that what’s in my head better get itself down on that paper, or you’re never going to see that early morning fog lifting itself from the pond just under the strawberry jam spread of sky. You’ll be thinking everyone sleeps with cheese hats on their heads, and that, my friend, just ain’t true.