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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window

Issue Date: September 12, 2019

Janie Thibodeau Martin

Urban Living

I occasionally house and pet sit for two of my siblings who live in the Madison area. I love my equine, canine and feline nieces and nephews; and enjoy the change of pace "living" in a different place for a few days. I dearly love my home in the "sticks" of central Wisconsin and would never want to live anywhere else, but having a few days in the distinctly urban environment of my brother and sister-in-law's home just a block off Lake Monona is fun. (I also enjoy the more rural setting of my sister's house; but that's a column for another day.)

I have always loved Madison. When I was a little girl traveling to see relatives in Monroe, our route took us right by the capital. I was amazed to see the diversity of people there, including exotic "hippies" that I gawked at. It is still diverse, a vibrant hub of food, music, entertainment, beer and cultures.

It seems like every weekend offers too many choices of fairs, concerts, runs and walks and festivals. Urban parks are full of volleyball players, joggers, and dog walkers. Bike trails are bustling, including commuters biking back and forth to work. The bike trails are even busy in the winter months. Bike lanes are a feature of many streets and it is inspirational to see so many people, young and old, using this simpler means of transportation. Their bodies get healthy exercise, their cars do not choke the roads and parking spaces, and the air is spared more exhaust. Buses roam the neighborhoods and are also utilized by people of all ages and incomes.

A short walk from my temporary home base can take me to the lovely Olbrich Gardens, with no entrance fee. Across the road is a large park on the lake, with a summer beer garden a beehive of activity. I can rent a kayak or canoe there, or visit the "Tiki Bar" of a local establishment. A two block walk takes me to a bike trail, where I can walk the dog on the nicely-maintained shoulder of the bike path away from the vehicle traffic.

Every morning "Brandi" and I patronize a local dog park, where canines of every size, shape and interesting breed mix romp, wrestle and chase tennis balls. It is fun watching the sun come up as the dogs race happily around, and dog people are outgoing and friendly. Several people recognize Brandi and ask me where my sister-in-law, Brandi's normal escort, is.

Madison is a short drive from the homes of many of my extended family so I have lunch with several of them, an evening with my sister, and visit an aunt who is in a residential care facility. Away from my normal activities and obligations, my visits are long, relaxed and completely enjoyable.

Much like the situation in Marinette, retail has been hit hard in the Wausau area. So although I am not much of a shopper, I do track down several things I need and even buy a couple of Christmas gifts. Madison retail has also suffered, but the shopping choices are far greater than are available to me at my home, so I take advantage.

My final night before returning home, I take the dog out for her last walk of the day. It is a mild early fall Friday evening with an enjoyable breeze, reminding me why having a dog is such a healthy thing. Not sure I'd be out walking if there was no dog here " but so grateful I am up and out to enjoy this night. I see the lights of the capital dome reflecting beautifully on the lake. Music can be heard from the lakefront beer garden, and people are outside enjoying their lawns and porches as I walk the neighborhood sidewalks. Kids chase each other around screeching, enjoying the gateway to their first weekend since school started. I feel completely safe, and meet many other walkers, all of whom I exchange greetings with. The bike trail is still busy, with bike headlights strung out along the path as far as I can see.

I am not a city person. But if I had to live in a city, I'd be very tempted to call Madison home.

On this eighteenth anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack of 9/11, I pray for the families of those killed, injured and permanently disabled on that sad day. We have made negligible progress in achieving peace in this world; and sometimes it doesn't even seem like a global priority. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. (Lyrics from one of my favorite hymns " "Let There Be Peace on Earth," by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller, written in 1955.)

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.


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