The start of a new era — living in Wisconsin, Again

Our new residence

We moved into our house in Wisconsin two weeks ago, after spending 16 wonderful years in Michigan. We plan on spending the next 30 years or more in this house — at least that is how long our mortgage loan is. We’ve never been able to pay off a mortgage loan in the past. We hope to this time, and also expect this to be a wonderful place to grow old in.

Our neighborhood is nice. Quiet. For the most part. The dress is casual. By that I mean I’ve seen 6 different neighbors from 5 homes walk about outside in robe or pajama bottoms, even engage in conversation with me. At first we thought of Arthur from Hitchhiker’s Guide, but then more and more Arthurs popped up. Guess I’ll have to go sleepwear shopping soon.

But the very best part of being here is that it is only 15 minutes from family. (Although, one son is still down in sunny, warm Arizona. He will get to enjoy winters when he comes at Christmas.)

Our living room before the movers came
The living room after the movers came

We honestly did a lot of downsizing before moving. And as you can see, we have our wicker furniture from our Michigan three season room as our living room furniture. For now. That is because we gave away all of our living room furniture. (You may or may not see another photo of our living room after it is livable, but maybe it fits the casual nature of this neighborhood.)

We lasted 2 1/2 months without Internet at Turkeyville, Michigan. And it seems that the lack of Internet accessibility has followed us here to Wisconsin. We have tried since house closing on September 8 to get Internet connected to our new house. You would think that being just a few blocks from Milwaukee, that access would be simple. It’s just one of those challenges we face as retirees. At least at our son’s house we can use his Internet service. But at 9:20 on November 2…internet lives! Now for a washing machine which works. I have 8 loads ready to go, while waiting for a replacement for the lemon one we got from Home Depot last week. (Water doesn’t drain.) I don’t suppose the bouncing off the truck as it was delivered helped. I just look forward to clean…everything. Oh, the trials of First World living. I can, however, use our son’s machine, but I’d rather play with the kiddos than do chores.

We’ve only been to one city park, about a mile from us.

Not like the woodsy Michigan trails we’ve loved. But there are state parks here, too.

So many new things to experience, to explore, to be and become in our new state. And, please do know that any friend is welcome to visit us anytime.

Plot Twists from Animal Encounters, Part 5 — Wisconsin

In the continuing examples of thinking of plot twists pulled from personal experiences, here is another story of a character (me) trying to reach a goal (a river) with a twist and conflict thrown in.

I’m an early bird, rising with the sun and watching the world awake, while my husband’s a night owl, thinking best in the evening or night when there are fewer distractions. We’ve learned to work around our personal clocks.

The spring of the first year we were married (1979), we took a week’s trip to state parks around Wisconsin. We camped one night at Merrick State Park along the Mississippi River. That next morning, I heard a bird call I’d never heard before. It sounded like a cat stuck in the tree above us. I got dressed, left my sleeping husband, and grabbed the binoculars and bird book. Only one other person was awake in the campground, and he was several sites away. I sat at our picnic table and located the bird crying so pitifully and uniquely from its nest and then looked it up in the book. It was a cat bird. Well named!

I looked through the binoculars back at the tree to confirm the markings, following the trunk up towards the nest and noticed movement. A snake was climbing the tree. Who knew? I’d always thought they were ground creatures. Then I recalled that snakes ate eggs. No wonder the cat bird cried so. I could have thrown a rock to knock the snake off the tree, but it would then be on the ground, near me. Besides, there was always the next morning for the snake to make another egg-snatching attempt when I wasn’t there to be guardian of the eggs. I decided not to watch that horror unfold and took a walk alone down to the Mississippi River.

A narrow trail went out through waist-high grass and over mushy, swampy ground to the point extending out into the river. It wasn’t a long trail, about one hundred yards. I imagined that fishermen took this trail to get to the river. I watched the beautiful sunrise-lit bluff on the western side, and stretched up occasionally on tip-toes to try to catch a glimpse of the river. I let my feet be my ground eyes, feeling and judging when the soggy ground would become too wet to support me. I was nearing the end goal and my hiking boots were suddenly sinking in deeper, a couple inches, three inches, uncertain ground. I stopped. I didn’t want to sink up to my knees and be unable to get out with no one knowing where I was so early in the morning. I sadly acknowledged that I wouldn’t reach the very edge of the river, that it was flowing under the tentative ground upon which I stood. I remained still in the soft earth for a quiet moment, reflecting on God’s glory of the early morning, of the quiet, of water all around me, being both a part of water and land. Then, for the first time of the soggy morning hike, I looked down. I needed to turn around and get my bearings of the trail direction through this swamp grass.

To my horror, there at my feet and stretched across and all along as far as I could make out through the curved grass trail were brown snakes with thick diameters of two inches…and long. Hundreds of them, and those were only the ones I could see crisscrossing the narrow trail. What about in the grassy sides to my left and right?

I didn’t pause to measure exactly how long the snakes were. I didn’t even pause a heartbeat to tell God what glory there was in his variety of creation. I did a high-step, sploshy run back to the campsite, only occasionally looking down to try to not step on one—a nearly impossible task. I bolted up the dry hill to our campsite and sat cross-legged on the picnic table until Jeff finally woke up.

Finding out that snakes climbed trees had been difficult enough to swallow. Discovering from a park ranger later that day that these are harmless bullsnakes didn’t calm my heart much. Imprinted in my mind for a thousand years to come was the image of hundreds of large slithering brown snakes, blocking my way to non-snake safety.