All Roads Lead to New Glarus Pt. 1- A Travel/Memoir Series – Retelling of a Story

My father once said, “All roads lead to New Glarus.” Throughout the years a small town in Southwestern Wisconsin seems to have repeated itself in significance. Our tapestry has been woven traveling through, in and around this lovely weekend getaway spot. The rolling hills and deeply cut valleys reminded the early Swiss settlers of their homeland.

I’ll never forget the first time I found myself in New Glarus, Wisconsin. It was a late August afternoon, and the air was starting to smell like newly sharpened pencils. Locusts played their organ-grinding songs, and all that grows grew golden. Thoughts of going back to school lurked in the back of my mind, causing me to capture each moment and savor it like a piece of creamy, milk chocolate melting slowly over my tongue. Every hour was precious freedom.

My family strolled down the main street of a town proclaiming to be “America’s Swiss Village.” With almost-black rough wood beams criss-crossing over white stucco, the buildings looked like they could have been in Glarus, Switzerland. Under the windows, geraniums spilled out of flower boxes. Passing a storefront with sausages hanging in the window, my nose crinkled trying to distinguish the fragrance of spice and uncooked red meat, an odor foreign to my young nose. Church bells broke into exultation, signaling that it was half past the hour.

New Glarus Photos
This photo of New Glarus is courtesy of TripAdvisor

As my father opened the door to the New Glarus Baking Company, the unfamiliar tunes of an accordion playing bouncy polka music blasted into the street. A shaft of light streamed down the staircase and beckoned us to follow it’s guidance to the pinnacle and into the tea room.

I sat on the smooth, wooden chair, my feet almost touching the ground. the side of the table at which I sat was against the wall, facing the window. My parents sat across from me. They were surrounded by the bright sunshine, which created halos around their forms like the paintings on Eastern Orthodox icons. The tables were adorned with white linen cloths and napkins and in the center of each one was a bud vase with a silk red carnation reaching towards the ceiling. The waitress came to take our order wearing a customary Swiss peasant dress. She looked like a member of the Van Trap Family.

New Glarus Images
This photo of New Glarus is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Soon after ordering, my father was drinking a cup of coffee. Mother was checking a glass for water spots. I, on the other hand, was about to dive into a biscuit with a creamy chicken gravy, topped with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. My mouth watered. The sound of silver on china now accompanied the accordion as the velvety flavors exploded in my mouth.

Looking down on the last bite, I realized that just as I was about to enjoy the last of this delectable treat, I was also enjoying the last moment of my family vacation. Surprisingly, new notebooks, pens and shoes seemed like a welcome adventure after spending lazy days in the summer heat. I leaned back in my chair satisfied with my meal and with my fifth grade summer vacation.

To read the next installment of this story click here.

Linking with Imperfect Prose

storytellers button pink

Finding Holy In Long Summer Days – by Tara Polkhotte – TOYS Linkup

I am so sorry this is so late. Life has been crazy and I hope to write about it soon! Tara’s life is crazy too! She’s a mama, a student and she works…(I think I need some counselling as to how she finds time to write!) Her words are like a visit to Grandpa’s lap on his favorite rocking chair. The sway back and forth until your spirit has found peace and rest. You need to check out her blog Polkhotte Press. It’s a vacation in a blog…

 

Take Off Your  Shoes (TOYS)…You’re About to Enter Holy Ground!

Our 15 hour car ride brought us through the Cumberland Gap, weaving slowly up the ribboned roads of the Appalachian mountains to my father-in-law’s house, perched eye level with the treetops. We unpacked our cramped limbs from our seats and promptly found our way to our beds just before the sun broke the horizon.

With the promise of seven days of uninterrupted time as a family we meandered through our routines – no clocks to adhere to, places to be, and only the lake welcoming us at the edge of the dock. I felt myself exhale, let go of the constant pull of forward driving days and thoughts to let myself sink into the beauty of time allowed to be still. And as is the power of staying present, my eyes began to see all of the holy pooling at my feet.

Holy came in paper bowls, bed-heads and the passing of cereal boxes over top of the boy so excited for the day that he was already wearing his snorkel gear so when an adult made the nod of the affirmative, he could race down that hill and be the first in.

Holy splashed between us every lazy afternoon, burning hot across the crowns of our heads as our arms and backs crinkled sun-dried lake upon our skin. It came masked in sandwiches whose crusts, discarded by the four year old nibbler, became fish food and cause of delight. It settled slowly on boat rides and sunsets across the open water.

I watched as holy was exploded by men, whose love language is different then mine, painted multicolored love across the sky. It sat brilliant in the reflection of the fireworks and pride dancing on my children’s upturned faces. It circled around a solitary lamp each night, three generations slapping cards on the table. Voices rising in fake protest or the sweetest of victories, sharing hands and our stories while the stars winked their silent approval.

I found it tucked up tight next to my children in the bunk-beds their daddy used to call his own. Contentment tangled at their feet in the piles of old Pound Puppy and Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle sheets. Holy was there at 3 am, eight hours after the storm rolled through, taking the power with it – leaving in its wake an uncomfortable four year old girl, stripped down to only her princess undies trying to stay cool. Even in the close to 100 degree stagnant heat, when she needs comfort, she still seeks my arms in the dark and presses my forehead to hers to find the rhythm of sleep.

When the morning came for us to leave our summit, I breathed in deep, letting the glory of those moments spent in quiet living tuck up deep into my bones. I let my head rest back against the seat as our car hugged the bending roads back down the mountain; and I smiled at the miles ahead.

Won’t you join me on Fridays for a new series and linkup called, “Take Off Your Shoes, You’re On Holy Ground!” or TOYS? Each week a post will be shared about the significance of a place and you will be able to share as well!! Just 1) Write a post about how a place has ministered to you. 2) Add your post to the linkup. 3) Add the button to your post. 4)Visit and encourage your neighbors!

JourneyTowardsEpiphany

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It’s Not Nice to be Mean – Guest Post Adela Crandell Durkee – Painting Prose

Adela’s Once A Little Girl was one of the first blogs I stumbled upon as I began my blogging habit. I’ve been hooked ever since! She’s made me laugh out loud on several occasions, and then in the middle of my laughter, she’s brought a catch in my voice with a point driven home.  Adela’s words are written with such nostalgia and her voice brings me back to so many sweet memories. She is also the first blogger I found who lived in the same metropolis as I do…and we’re even meeting up at a writer’s conference soon! Needless to say, I can’t wait to hug her neck. I’m sure you will enjoy writing as much as I have!

When I was a little girl it was important to be nice.  Captain Kangaroo told me the magic words:  “Abracadabra, Please and Thank you.”  If I forgot, Mom or Dad reminded me, “Now what are the magic words?”
When I was in Kindergarten, I had a bunch of teachers, one at a time, most of the names I forgot, but I remember Mrs. Brown.  She was mean.  My older sister, Deanna, had Mrs. Markley; she was just like a grandma, so nice.  For some reason Mrs. Markley was out of school when I got to Kindergarten, I never figured out why; I thought maybe she died, ’cause teachers lived in the school, so if she wasn’t there, she must have died.  But the next year, Mrs. Markley was back; all the rest of the kids in my family had Mrs. Markley. I wondered where she went the year I started school.
The new teacher, Mrs. Brown was not nice; she was mean. Mrs. Brown told me I had to drink white milk, no chocolate milk, even if that’s what Mom wrote down for me to order.   “We don’t need to bother Mr. Rex with all these special orders.”  Mrs. Brown told the class.  Mr Rex always smiled when he delivered the milk. He was in charge of the whole school, he had a chain hooked to his belt with keys to every door in the entire school,  and he was super-nice.  Mr. Rex was the janitor.

Mrs. Brown had big “bowls” that hung way down below her waist; when she bent over they brushed on the table, and she kept a wrinkly hankie tucked in her belt.  I think she used the same hankie all week.  Her face was all pinched and grumpy like her hair got pulled back in her bun too tight so she was starting to get a headache, and she smelled like cottage cheese and boiled eggs.  One day she passed out brown construction paper with a picture of a leaf on it.
“You can color your leaf any color you want, because fall leaves are colorful.”  she told us.  I colored mine yellow, like the hickory tree in the field behind my house; Mom put hickory nuts in the cookies she baked.  Dale colored his leaf green.  Mrs. Brown picked up Dale’s leaf and held it up for everyone to see.  I thought she was gonna tell us how beautiful it was, ’cause everything he did was the best; I loved Dale.
“Children.”  she said.  Mrs. Brown always called us ‘children’, I don’t think she knew our real names.
“Look at this leaf.”  she pulled her eyebrows down low and together, so they touched each other.  That was not a nice face to pull, I knew that.
“No Fall leaves are green.”  Now she was shouting and Dale looked like he wanted to cry, except he knew that big boys don’t cry, and he wanted everyone to know he was a big boy.  It’s okay for big girls to cry.  No one told me that, but I saw Mom cry lots of times, sometimes she even cried what she called happy tears, like when Dad gave her something nice on Mother’s Day when she thought he forgot,  and me and Bonita had already made her mad by picking lilacs and breaking some of the branches down, and she tried hard to act happy.  So I knew big girls cry for all kinds of reasons, but not big boys, they never cry.  If big boys feel like crying they just swallow hard, till the feeling goes away.  Dale was  swallowing  so hard pretty soon he was going to have a stomach ache.
I piped right up, ’cause I had a really good memory.  “You said we could color them any color we wanted.  Remember?”  I probably don’t need to tell you that my helping made things a whole lot worse.
That night after supper, I told Dad that Mrs. Brown was mean.  He sat me on his lap and listened to the whole story.  One really good thing about my Dad, he was a very good listener.  He listened to every bit:  about the milk, about the coloring the leaves,  about Dale swallowing hard, and about me reminding Mrs. Brown.  I left out the part about how I loved Dale, but he might have known anyway.  Sometimes he knew stuff, the way Mom did, although his powers were a bit weaker.
“Maybe she just had a bad day.’ he offered.
“If that was it, she has an awful lot of bad days.  Like every day.”  I looked up into his blue eyes; they were calm and clear, like her was figuring out an arithmetic problem in his head.
“Well, tomorrow, I want you to go right up to Mrs. Brown, put on your best smile and say, ‘Good morning, Mrs. Brown.  How are you today?’  I bet that will get her day off to a good start, and things will go a whole lot better.”  I must have looked doubtful, ’cause then he said, “You’ve got the best smile I ever saw.  That smile will charm the socks right off Mrs. Brown.”
I still had my doubts, and I wasn’t that interested in seeing Mrs. Brown’s feet, but the idea of her socks flying off was pretty funny, so I started to laugh. Besides that, Dad knew a lot, like how to tell arrowheads from rocks and how to tie a hook on a fishing line, so I trusted him.  The next day, I marched right up to Mrs. Brown, and said just like Dad told me:  “Good morning Mrs. Brown.  How are you today?”
She smiled right down at me and said.  “Now, don’t dawdle, go hang your coat up.”  I was thinking about saying “Abracadabra, please and thank you.”  but I wanted that smile to stay right where it was, so I stayed quiet.
A couple of weeks later, Mrs. Brown was gone, and we had a new teacher, who must have been nice, because I would have remembered another mean one.  I found out years later, that the principal asked Mrs. Brown to “step down’ and she did.  I heard she suffered from depression, which in those days, went undiagnosed for most people.  I’m glad that Dad gave me the advice he did; I got to feel like I had a little control, while the parents worked things out behind the scene.    Of course I’m not always nice;  it’s good to know I have a (w)itch  in my tool belt when I really need her,  but I prefer to be nice.  I feel a lot better about myself and I end up feeling better about whatever meanie I come up against.  And I try to keep in mind, that the meanie might be dealing with problems that are far beyond my comprehension. Besides, smiling is infectious, and I love smiling.

Drop a note in the comment section to let Adela know how much you enjoyed hearing about her childhood.

If this is your first time here, let me explain what we are all about. We are a community started by Emily Wierenga. It was called Imperfect Prose. She is on a bit of a vacation as she has some extra responsibilities at the moment.

If you are new, please check out Emily’s blog. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and you need to be acquainted with the woman who made all of this happen!

JourneyTowardsEpiphany

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All Roads Lead to New Glarus Pt. 1- A Travel/Memoir Series

In honor of my mothers birthday i thought I’d tell a family story.
Happy Birthday mama !

My father once said, “All roads lead to New Glarus.” Throughout the years a small town in Southwestern Wisconsin seems to have repeated itself in significance. Our tapestry has been woven traveling through, in and around this lovely weekend getaway spot. The rolling hills and deeply cut valleys reminded the early Swiss settlers of their homeland.

I’ll never forget the first time I found myself in New Glarus, Wisconsin. It was a late August afternoon, and the air was starting to smell like newly sharpened pencils. Locusts played their organ-grinding songs, and all that grows grew golden. Thoughts of going back to school lurked in the back of my mind, causing me to capture each moment and savor it like a piece of creamy, milk chocolate melting slowly over my tongue. Every hour was precious freedom.

My family strolled down the main street of a town proclaiming to be “America’s Swiss Village.” With almost-black rough wood beams criss-crossing over white stucco, the buildings looked like they could have been in Glarus, Switzerland. Under the windows, geraniums spilled out of flower boxes. Passing a storefront with sausages hanging in the window, my nose crinkled trying to distinguish the fragrance of spice and uncooked red meat, an odor foreign to my young nose. Church bells broke into exultation, signaling that it was half past the hour.

New Glarus Photos
This photo of New Glarus is courtesy of TripAdvisor

As my father opened the door to the New Glarus Baking Company, the unfamiliar tunes of an accordion playing bouncy polka music blasted into the street. A shaft of light streamed down the staircase and beckoned us to follow it’s guidance to the pinnacle and into the tea room.

I sat on the smooth, wooden chair, my feet almost touching the ground. the side of the table at which I sat was against the wall, facing the window. My parents sat across from me. They were surrounded by the bright sunshine, which created halos around their forms like the paintings on Eastern Orthodox icons. The tables were adorned with white linen cloths and napkins and in the center of each one was a bud vase with a silk red carnation reaching towards the ceiling. The waitress came to take our order wearing a customary Swiss peasant dress. She looked like a member of the Van Trap Family.

New Glarus Images
This photo of New Glarus is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Soon after ordering, my father was drinking a cup of coffee. Mother was checking a glass for water spots. I, on the other hand, was about to dive into a biscuit with a creamy chicken gravy, topped with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. My mouth watered. The sound of silver on china now accompanied the accordion as the velvety flavors exploded in my mouth.

Looking down on the last bite, I realized that just as I was about to enjoy the last of this delectable treat, I was also enjoying the last moment of my family vacation. Surprisingly, new notebooks, pens and shoes seemed like a welcome adventure after spending lazy days in the summer heat. I leaned back in my chair satisfied with my meal and with my fifth grade summer vacation.

To read the next installment of this story click here.

Linking with Imperfect Prose

storytellers button pink