The night in Wisconsin was much needed. We survived the trip up, man, girl, and too-big dog in the tiny hybrid… no small feat given that the man, while he has grown to begrudgingly love the dog (when she’s being good), is not a “dog person” and Bella of course spent half the trip with her head out the window, and half the trip with her head between the two front seats, panting heavily and occasionally shaking drool sprays on both of us and usually leaning uncomfortably on the man.
Luckily she was mostly tuckered out and it was even hotter on the drive home, so she took a break for some shut-eye:
Until the sheriff showed up. Apparently a neighbor was concerned about the 200 or so rounds that were slooowly fired over a couple hours… and wanted to make sure they weren’t overhearing the world’s most tedious murder. We asked if he’d like to go a round… he patted his sidearm and said no thanks. Our only rules besides basic gun safety were, “draw your own target” and “no pictures of people”. A girl was shooting at a picture of a valentine’s heart (after her original smiley face violated the “no people” rule… Ironically, the reverse of the christmas tree target was the beginnings of a bespectacled scientist) when he pulled up, and was literally going to be the last person to take a turn, and had two of her three requested rounds left. I joked about the unheard conversation as the officer spoke to the fellow who had been coaching the girl, as he pulled out his wallet… “yes sir. Here’s my FOID card… aaannnd here’s my Eagle Scout card…”. 5-0 was happy with our safety protocols and log backstop, and the fact that he’d walked into a group of calm, matter-of-fact adults and not the drunk kids he’d perhaps anticipated; he took down the serial of the piece for good measure, and asked if we were planning to shoot off fireworks later too. “Nope, we forgot them. Just a fire, sir.”
In the background, another couple was playing Viking Chess (a yard game involving throwing wooden sticks at wooden blocks, invented by very cold, very bored Scandinavian folk to endure a long winter, no doubt. A slow moving game…). We packed up the makeshift range and dug into the guacamole, lit the wood fire under the enormous grill, and spent the rest of the evening talking, drinking, laughing, splitting wood, and sharing stories and stars and tequila under an almost full moon in an open field.
Two guys rode the 120 miles up from Chicago on their bikes… one of them then proceeded to grill up ten pounds of skirt steak marinated in high life, and the local burgers and sausages that our host picked up for us. There were hot dogs on sticks basted with pickle juice, topped with local kraut, passed around the circle for communal munching. It was, a good time. This guy from Madison fell off his bike while trail-riding earlier that day before heading over and wrenched his knee pretty good. Luckily for him, he was a veteran with field-medicine skills, and the next day he and a couple other guys fashioned an admirable splint with a broomstick cut in half and some old t-shirts…
Our friend is considering selling the place (10 acres and a house), and the fellow spent an hour or so after everyone else had gone to bed (3-4 am) trying to convince him not to… or at least to have a solid plan for what to do instead… the house needs painting, and always maintenance, and he wants to be free to travel around, WOOFing and bike touring without worrying about it… the fellow thinks I should go spend a year up there working on a book and turning our friend’s place into a semi-working or at least self-sustaining mini farm while he finishes our house here… which on some levels, I must admit, sounds AMAZING. It also seems like giving up somehow, like running away from everything here because it’s hard, and sometimes makes me unhappy. It’s also basically impossible or would be really irresponsible, as I have a really cool job and student loan bills to pay. A fun thing to daydream about, but not really a practical option.
Our friend was in town from Vermont for the weekend, and he and another friend (high school buddies of the fellow) who just moved back here with his wife and baby from Atlanta came over last night. The Atlanta pal and I veiled up and checked on our hives- he was the person who got us to go from “someday we’ll have bees” to “lets get bees this year” last spring. They’re doing well… the Carnolians need a super, so I’ll be ordering frames with this paycheck. The Italians are also doing ok, and will need a super soon… I have new and used boxes and some old frames, but want to use new frames to not risk disease. Cheap insurance all-told. We were headed out to go get Chicago pizza at the request of the VT visitor and chatted for a minute with our neighbor who was just pulling up, with his son in the car… he said a twelve year old boy had just been shot less than three blocks away. As we drove past on our way to dinner, people were still standing on the street corners, watching as firemen hosed the blood off the sidewalk. I think we’ll be spending the 4th at a friend’s backyard in another neighborhood… as I’m sure fireworks won’t be the only things going off around here…
Stay safe, everyone.