Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer hot and cold

   Summer weather so far this year in Wisconsin seems to be normal, nice warm days alternating with short periods of very hot weather. (And no rain no matter what.) On a very hot day recently it was fun to see a pile of ice someone had dumped out on the sidewalk.
Looking hot rather than cool is this home painted scooter I spotted in front of the library. I saw the owner riding it later and he has a helmet painted to match. Love it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A whole lot of nothing

  Of the many states I've bicycled in, Wisconsin is the best for abundance of paved secondary roads. Last week we went on a 20 mile (32km) ride in the countryside not far from Madison. In the first hour of riding, we were passed by a grand total of two tractors...and one car. Later the pace picked up and a car went passed us about every ten minutes.
These cattle seemed quite interested in us—when I stopped to take a photo, the few that were on the other side of the field ran over to be with the group. Perhaps they were happy to finally have someone go past.
In the last few years we have noticed a wonderful improvement in cycling in Wisconsin. Whereas farm dogs used to be a dangerous annoyance when they ran out and gave chase, lately we have not seen any dogs on the loose.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Being festive

   In Costa Rica, we flee the neighborhood festival that is days and nights of over-amplified recorded music simultaneously booming over incredibly loud commentary on the bull riding. One memorable year it lasted 10 days, usually to midnight. Most of my tico neighbors join me in disliking the torture by sound that the festival brings us. Why don't they unite to do something about it? When I understand that, I will really understand Costa Rican culture.
   Contrast that to the Marquette Waterfront Festival that is very close to our Madison home. It's two days and it has amplified music too, but you can't actually feel the bass beat from inside our house. Music ends at the civilized hour of 8:30 and it's all live. True, there's lots of beer but there are lots of activities for kids too. Many of our neighbors have porch parties to share the music with friends. One of the coolest things about the festival is that most people walk or bike to get there. (Maybe that's because parking in our neighborhood is very challenging.) Here's just a portion of the bike parking.
   This year the highlight for me was the Portland-based  Marchfourth Marching Band. It's like no marching band I've ever seen before. It plays much more danceable music and the performers wear much more interesting costumes.
The stilt dancers were really tall. The crowd gets moving—and amazingly for Madison, many of the upraised arms are free of tattoos. Our beautiful lake and giant cottonwood trees make a wonderful setting for this joyful celebration.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

The shock of the large

   Many things are big in the U.S. Consider the size of this strawberry from California. The egg is the standard large egg. It's just this kind of thing that sends me into reverse culture shock as I readjust to being in the States.
I used to scorn large strawberries as being generally hard as rocks and devoid of flavor. It seems, however, that there has been a lot of progress in strawberries and this strawberry had quite a bit of flavor. It was slightly on the crunchy side which helped it make it's trip without damage.
Happily, we are now in the very brief local strawberry season in Wisconsin. This is one of the average-sized, locally grown strawberries I bought today with the same size egg. (To be fair, I should have probably photographed the largest berry in the box, but it wasn't much bigger.)
The flavor: extraordinary.