Sunday, October 24, 2010

Karma Chameleon

We are firing up the convertible again and this time we are headed into Wisconsin, home of cheese and cheeseheads, those Green Bay Packer fans. Now I love cheese but that other group makes me want to lock myself in a closet. They are an elitist group and like cyclists and vegans, they believe they are superior to the rest of us based on, well, nobody seems to know. I thought when Brett Farve left the pack they might find some semblance of sanity and decency in their ranks but this was not to be. My own family must mask the fact that one of our own adheres to just such a philosophy. My youngest brother Albert would send out his Christmas greeting postcards with the whole family including the dog wearing the green and gold jersey.

From thirty miles away we can see our goal.

The natural mound called Sinsinawa rises three hundred feet above the Wisconsin landscape. The Mesquakie Native Americans named this area Manitmouie - "the land where the Great Spirit dwells." And the mound itself, Sinsinawa - "the young eagle." Here now is the mother house of the Dominican sisters and the Catholic parish of St. Joseph.
Sonny worries that Dave will be chilled in the back seat of the convertible. "Is he cool with that?" he asks. I stop midway while blowing my nose. "I have never heard you use that word," I tell my father. Unless he is describing a drop in temperature. The old guy's showing some friskiness - I like that. When the wind blows cold Sonny just jacks up the car heater. Dave sits in the back content it is not his gasoline bill being eaten up. The rolling hills of dried corn and grazing animals lull me into a lazy state of mind.

And here is our reward - so to speak - a bowl of mulligan stew at the church festival. Mulligan is another word for Irishman and the stew was a staple of the Irish hobos in America around the turn of the century. Into the pot went whatever was available by hobo standards but fortunately today for our recipe we have Midwestern fare: three kinds of meat (I know, I know - but this is the farm belt and we need animal flesh to build up stamina for the wicked winter ahead,) plenty of root vegetables and secret seasonings. There is a makeshift bar of plywood and barrels set up in the middle of the gymnasium. And a huge blue and gold eagle painted on the wall, thanks to the class of '95. Volunteers are selling raffle tickets for cash prizes, kids with crew cuts are playing the homemade festival games, good Christian women are offering chances on a quilt. I want to sit here for awhile and soak up the small town atmosphere. I buy a jar of raspberry jam for a dollar.

The school is small enough that every graduating class is pictured on the wall. Look at this innocent group. All shining faces and well scrubbed nails. Where are they now? Are they farming the valleys like their great grandparents or have they journeyed to foreign ports? The young fellow standing next to the priest looks especially pleased with himself. Why, I believe it's a young Boy George.

"I don't dread autumn's slide toward winter. It's not the coming cold and snow that I dread; it's knowing that the earth will be brown for months on end. Snow in this globally-warmed region is intermittent, softening the landscape when it falls, but winter thaws bring back a deadly beige. Green won't return until April."
Kevin Koch

1 comment:

MrDaveyGie said...

But what about PIE? Dad has to have PIE. You know this. OH I would have bought 10 jars at that price. Oh, and your a good girl to your father.