Amy says . . .
Boaz was poetry. We only wrote one poem about a popsicle, which was funny considering it was the coldest night of the trip and we were bundled up in sweatshirts shivering by the bonfire. But Boaz (population 156) was pure poetry. A pot-luck supper under the pavilion. Sweet welcome signs made by the kids before our arrival. A log cabin Little Free Library surrounded by paper pinwheels. Stories of rutabagas and cheese making and the mastodon and Mill’s Creek. Maya riding the kids around on the tandem one at a time. Fire magic. S’mores. And the sheer delight of the kids.
Josephine and Leo and Jennifer and Celeste and Becca. They were engaged and interested and playful and patient and pensive and silly and kind and polite and powerful. There is something about kids typing on the typewriter that touches me deeply. Leo tapping gently (then not-so-gently) on the keys tonight, his affinity for “writing codes,” his offer to explain which highways we should take to get to Olympia, Washington, his shy smile breaking into a huge grin, his tight hugs around my knees which brought me to tears.
Maybe it is because I am missing my babies, and not just missing them because they are far away and it has been over a month since I’ve seen them, but deeply missing their younger selves. I had sharp and sudden memory tonight of Charlie hanging on my hand and refusing to let go and wanting me to walk slowly with him. I thought about the times I shook him off because I wanted to walk by myself. I wanted a moment to breathe without the sticky hands of a kid hanging on me begging for something. And now I want those minutes back. I want him to grab my hand and clamor for my attention and plead with me to hold him. I want his little arms around my knees looking up with such trust and love, that smile breaking into a grin, and the whole world waiting for us to dance.
Photos by Stefanie Renee
Waking up to sheets of rain. The tinny sound of it on Maude's roof. The near-deserted campground, and how we lay there, just listening. The peace of that. Stef, groggy, driving into Westby for chai, the wordless decision not to do the ride today, and morning suddenly feeling unhurried, spacious, beautifully empty of demands. Leaving the nest, eventually, and leaving Route 27 for County Road D. The first Amish farms, and occasionally, on the road in horse and buggy, families on their way to somewhere we couldn't know. The small wave they gave us, always. All five fingers, held palm out. Passing through tiny Cashton, tinier La Farge. The sky heavy, the air turned cool. Wearing a sweatshirt for the first time in a month. Arriving in Richland Center, a metropolis with 5,000+ inhabitants. The perfect rainy day lunch at Empire Grill - tomato soup and grilled cheese. Dipping into antiques. The library for wi-fi and blog catch-up. A hard phone call with a good friend, and how despite the myriad forms of communication at our disposal, face-to-face is always the better option. The challenges of distance and proximity. The balancing act of collaboration. The way a wind shifts and we settle our weight around it. How it's not always clear or easy, but it's always useful. The map of these experiences, being drawn and filled in daily, and knowing I will return to it again and again.
And then, like a bright spot of sun, the tiny magic of Boaz, Wisconsin. Sandy and Darlene and Celeste and Leo and Josephine and a sign that said "Welcome Poets." Burgers under the park shelter and slabs of watermelon and potato chips and steamed homegrown potatoes and thick slices of cucumber and a little library celebrating its 2-year anniversary. Bumpy rides on the tandem on park grass and an egg toss and chemistry in the fire pit. Watching everyone take turns on the typewriters and writing a poem about popsicles for Catherine and the earnest welcome of this group of 15 in a town of 156. Camaraderie and S'mores and stories about paying it forward. The way we listen when we're not thinking of where else we need to be. The way we listen when we know we're in exactly the right place.