{midwest wandering}



I believe there are places in this world that possess inherent beauty regardless of our ability to see.  And it falls to us not to chide this world for her lack of beauty but to seek out our own eyes for seeing it. 

Near the end of his life the founder of the Appalachian Trail, Benton Mackay, was asked what had been the goal of his project, he answered simply this: 

To see. To walk. To see what you see.

He believed in movement not as an escape, but an immersion.

I cannot remember a time when I did not feel the urge to move.  It is in my bloodline.  I have to look back beyond five generations to find an ancestor who lived out her life in the place she was born.  They weren’t nomads, but seekers, following paths that promised better lives.  But also, I cannot recall a time when I was without the longing to settle deeply in a place I could call my own – for the rest of my life.  Thus the paradox I inherited, that I have lived, the reason for moving is always to find a better place to stay.

That paradox finds me here, in a place called the Midwest.  A place where I have come to identify with a region more than a town, where boundaries mean less than the spaces that cross them.  This is the land of wide vistas and immense skies.  And a place where what is familiar transcends what is not.  I had to earn that transcendence through the exercise of seeing. And from that pursuit emerged Midwest Wandering a collection of writings born out of my desire to “see what I see” to discover the beauty in places unknown to me.  Through this pursuit, and without quite realizing it, I began also to satisfy those urges to both move and stay.  Staying has taught me how to move with intention and how to see as I go - how to live in the space between the new and the known.      

Midwest Wandering, previously titled Favorite Finds Friday, is an ever growing collection of reflections on the places I am most enamored with, places that have taught me or inspired me, touched me with their beauty or the experience they offer; but re-framed based on the realization that what I desire to document is not necessarily a list of favorites, but a record of experience.


To see, to walk, to see what you see





I'd love for you to join me...



Nachusa Grasslands is more than 3,500 acres of native and restored prairie habitat.  It offers the blessing of a glimpse...










I have written often about the Midwest as a place that consistently offers delightful and unexpected discovery.  I learned this from Boone County.  Its nestled places have made me curious and taught to not take open fields and unassuming land for granted...





When I was a young child my mother would fill long summer days by making tours of our local surroundings, stopping at any place that seemed even remotely interesting: small museums, a nearby mining town turned visitor destination and of course parks and lakes and sometimes the playground by the river where we could also feed the ducks...










I love driving through rural Wisconsin.  Always it feels fresh, and ripe for the discovery of some possibly brief but enticing new thing; always it feels familiar and comfortable and close to home... 









Some places just have it – and the Madison Children’s Museum is one of them.  Last week my 30 toes and I had the delight of spending an afternoon discovering, playing and creating at this gem...










An island in Lake Michigan seven miles north of the tip of Wisconsin's Door Peninsula, a masterpiece of beauty and respite... 









The Driftless area in the upper Midwest was bypassed by the glaciers of the last ice age, and left as beautiful and undulating landscape not typical of this region of the country.  Its reaches in Wisconsin are home to my favorite personal retreat spot, this series highlights some of its beauties... 









Everyone needs a favorite coffee shop, mine local crush is in Belvidere, Illinois (Sadly the Brick closed its doors in 2017 by the choice of its owners.  But I retain this post a small tribute to what was a truly lovely spot.  Thank you.)









Cute town and great market, what could be better...









Located in Poplar Grove, Illinois, Edwards Apple Orchard is a regional favorite and a family tradition...









A signal that the coming of autumn is eminent...rural roadside corn stands...










Located in Eagle, Wisconsin, just under an hour west of Milwaukee, Old World Wisconsin is a treasure trove of history brought to life, a wonderful day trip for children and adults alike...







Located somewhere in rural northern, Illinois my kitchen is my favorite room in my house; creativity, community and nourishment...






An inspiring organic farm and CSA located in Caledonia, Illinois...







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