Summer Heat

Where I live July is one of the hottest months of the year. The heat and humidity can be oppressive, forcing natives to seek relief inside air-conditioned homes, buildings, and cars. When I lived in Wisconsin, I found July was hot but not like Texas hot. In Wisconsin you can be out during the day and the evenings are pleasant especially with a soft serve cone. People complain about the heat, and by Wisconsin standards it is hot, but I grew up in Texas where 100-degree days with evening temperatures in the 80s during July and August are expected.

The Wisconsin summer is enough reason to visit this part of the country. The popular ski shows are found all through the state and Door County fish boils are a treat for tourists and residents alike. Summer is a time for the farmers’ markets to open early and close around noon or when the produce and baked goods are gone. The fishing is good most of the day and swimming is a favorite activity when the fish aren’t biting. Jet skis and boats are found on all the lakes and rivers.

The days are long, over fourteen hours of sunlight in much of the state. That means there is still daylight after work providing time for family activities. With mild evening temperature people stay outdoors and soak up the warmth of summer knowing that autumn will bring the first freeze of the year.

Writing the Jameson stories set in Wisconsin helps me remember how much I loved living there – especially during the summers.

Frozen Fun

IMG_1694Recently went night tobogganing at a local park with lights on the run. I am convinced that getting onto the toboggan is an art form. I was bundled up in several layers of clothes and boots, so my mobility was less than it normally is. I sat on the small bench and tried to scoot up to the front of the toboggan as instructed.  It became an ordeal, similar to turning over a beached whale. I couldn’t get any traction, space to maneuver was limited, it was dark, and I couldn’t bend my legs very well thanks to all the warm clothes I was wearing.

Finally, tugging and squirming I was in position. My husband plopped in behind me and was told to put his feet on my lap to keep his legs and feet well inside the toboggan perimeter and not rub on the sides of the run. So he squirms almost pulling me out of my hard-earned front position, and then he plops his booted feet around my waist. The rope was handed to me like I was going to guide the silly thing.

Then I hear a clunk, and we drop. As we race down the hill, I can see the run and the landing zone ahead, but all around me is black. We laugh and scream the entire way down; it is much like riding down a long roller coaster hill.

As we near the end of the run, I get a face full of ice and snow that is being thrown up by the toboggan. It takes my breath but is refreshing in a freezing wet sort of way.

At the end of the run, is the landing zone which is substantially rougher than the run. Bouncing along at a very high rate of speed, watching the dark that is just on the other side of the lite zone growing closer, I drop my feet so that they rake the snow and ice. More cold stuff hits me in the face, but we are slowing down.

We come to a stop more than halfway across the landing zone. I now have to get off and out of the way of the next toboggan. Getting off is easier than getting on, but I am so excited about the ride, I take longer than I should and almost got ran over by the next toboggan. My husband pulls me out of the way. I am still holding onto the rope, so the toboggan follows me as we begin the slow walk up the hill to do it again!

On our last run, we challenge a much younger couple to see who could go the furthest. During our previous runs, we were getting pretty good at sliding across the landing zone. Our challenge is accepted, and they go first. We loaded up and scooted/squirmed as far forward as we could and then comes the drop.

We are going so much faster than before. The snow and ice are hitting me in the face, and breathing is difficult because the air is so cold. But screaming and laughing seems to be no problem. We come off the run and can see the other couple standing beside their toboggan barely a third of the way across the zone. We stay tucked inside the toboggan, waving to them as we pass. When we finally come to a stop, it is dark where we are crawling off the toboggan.

It was a good run that was so much fun. If you get the chance, go tobogganing. Word of caution, don’t let your feet hit the sides of the run, you will crash, and it isn’t pretty.

 

Where to look for Story Inspiration?

Story Inspiration

Where I live in central Wisconsin, it is common to have farmer’s markets open during the spring and summer.  In Stevens Point, the downtown square has been used as the farmer’s market for over 100 years. Recently the area was enlarged and a splash pad was added, making it the place to go on a Saturday morning.

The farmer’s market is an opportunity for smaller farms to sell directly to the consumer. You don’t shop the farmer’s market to get the best deal – you shop to get the freshest fruits and veggies. But what you walk away with can be so much more than a bag loaded with fresh vegetables.

As you stroll along the tables loaded with colorful produce, you hear snippets of conversations. Some of these comments can make you smile or cause you to raise an eyebrow. It isn’t like you are eavesdropping, but there are times when pieces of the conversations are just heard. Here is sample of what I have heard:

  • “Only 3 cucumbers! I can eat that many by myself.”
  • “What is that? It looks like a pile of weeds.”
  • “Your mother said you love beets.”
  • “Wonder if the dog will eat them?”
  • “I want really hot peppers this time.”
  • “It makes me sad to look at raspberries.”
  • “Mom, Jenny is peeing in the water.”
  • “Don’t touch that, it has dirt on it.”
  • “Will it regrow?”

If you are looking for some story inspiration, check out the local farmer’s market.  I find all kinds of story fodder there and lots of good food.

Could it really happen twice on the same trip?

I was camping in a very nice Wisconsin county park where there was a great view of a lake, quick entrance to a lake trail, and quiet but friendly fellow campers. The first day was just like you would have drawn it up in a dream. Lots of fun, warm, no bugs, and plenty of downtime for recharging the batteries. Went to bed tired and the first raindrops hit the top of my RV. It was going to be a great night for sleeping – rain!

It rained all night and it was expected to rain the entire day. Decided to pack up and head home. While cleaning up, I heard water running, went to investigate and found it was pouring from the A/C vent in the RV (yes, I rough it in style these days). Water was pouring onto my bed! I made efforts to protect the bed with a vinyl tablecloth and towels.

Finished the clean up and my hubby was ready to drive the leaking RV to the shop and I would follow in the car. I opened the car door to find the seat was soaked. The seal around the sunroof had given way during the rain. So now, I am covering the car seat with trash bags and towels for the drive home.

So in one trip we had 2 seals fail. I wouldn’t have thought it possible. But on the positive side, I now have fodder for a new story.