Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On Wisconsin

The weather is the same there as everywhere else, lately, and the lawns have sinned against suburbia by turning yellow. The flowers in the garden struggle despite the hose, and even hornets haven't the energy to sting. Corn stalks remain stunted like withered bamboo bonsai, and the blood-red sun, when it sets, sits huge on the horizon for an hour, as if the earth is so dry it cannot sink.

This frightens deer out of the woods toward the bird bath, and crickets into the house, toads into the garage, all seeking something to drink. The crows battle yellow finches and hummingbirds. 80-year-old red pines rust and die, ever green no longer. Skittish foxes skirt the edge of the field, hoping to spot a cat or a mouse. And the mice, at night, munch on sun-dried husks of frog and beetles, neither of which can outlive these 99-degree days or the shrinking wilderness. So many developments: Meadow Estates. Larson's Landing. Hunter's Ridge. Condos instead of family farms. Freeway bypasses, Super Wal-Marts, and a fine crop of nothing.

But I exaggerate. I took this picture 60 miles north, along the National Scenic Ice Age Trail in Chippewa County. Where nature is left alone, it prospers.