Friday, April 28, 2017

Back from Wisconsin

There are so many places in the world that I would be happy living. One of them, it turns out, is the Coolee region of southwestern Wisconsin, centered on the city of LaCrosse, where I just spent a lovely week speaking to children from six elementary schools (Galesville, Ettrick, North Woods, Whitehall, West Salem, and Northside), as well as visiting two public libraries (Galesville and LaCrosse), and giving a talk at the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse.

It's so pretty in the Midwest! I think of Carney in Maud Hart Lovelace's Carney's House Party, thinking that her Vassar classmates "haven't any idea how nice the Middle West is."

What is nicer than to walk along the banks of the mighty Mississippi in a park designed by Frederick Olmsted?

Or to wander through tiny towns like Galesville and Whitehall, with populations of fewer than 2000 people but yet boasting thriving downtowns with appealing cafes and markets? Here I stand overlooking Galesville, during a fascinating tour from my librarian friend Winna.
And meeting the town founder, Mr. Gale.
The children were uniformly delightful. My talks were a nice mix of my usual meet-the-author assembly (now complete with much-admired slides of my cat, dog, and grandbabies) and writing workshops for smaller groups on the principle of "Show, don't tell," These led to much hilarity as child volunteers acted out scenarios of being sad, mad, and glad, while the rest of us took notes on their facial expressions and body language. Great slumping shoulders, sad ones! Great clenched fists, mad ones! Great leaping into the air, glad ones!

I hadn't realized that I would be so close to Pepin, Wisconsin, site of Little House in the Big Woods, or to the homestead of Caddie Woodlawn, dear to me ever since I played the role of stuck-up cousin Annabelle in a fifth-grade dramatization. So now I have to plan a return trip to make that pilgrimage.

What a big wonderful world this is! I'm glad I had the chance to spend a week in this sweet part of it.

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