Monday, August 02, 2004

Vacation piecemeal

I've not been writing much because I've been taking vacation in chunks. A long weekend (Th/F/S/S) followed by a back-to-work with a lot to catch up on. Last weekend was the first no-kids vacation in a long time. Most of the stress of dealing with the kids falls on my wife, so we tried to make it as close to carefree for her as we could. So we went small-town cruising around the Lacrosse area, hiked in the parks, watched the boats go through the locks, took a dinner cruise on the Island Girl (surprise: it operates out of the Bikini Yacht Club!), and just relaxed whenever we felt like it instead of when the schedule allowed it.

The Lacrosse waterfront rejoices in a huge statue of Hiawatha, which for some reason does not bear an endorsement from the Ho Chunk. A large eagle statue celebrates the employees ("past, present, and future") of a grocery chain. Other Indians struggle for the ball in a game of lacrosse. Statues in Lacrosse are in the likeness of things in the heavens above, the earth below, or the waters under the earth; and give a welcome relief from the pretentious abstractions in Madison.

A state law requires that ½% of the cost of a new state building be spent on public artwork for it. The new business school got stained glass, which is pleasantly colorful; but the swine nutrition center wound up with three large hinges welded atop each other (about 8 feet high). At least when the Physics remodeling was done Ugo was able to browbeat the art committee into creating something students could sit on and bushes grow in.

A river cruise is pleasant. The sun set behind the bluffs, and the moon came from behind the clouds. The waves of our wake meandered the lights of the shore. People are too afraid of silence: the music could have been quieter, or even absent; but they meant well. Busy spiders staked out web turf on the outside of the window to welcome the clouds of moths and others swarming about the lights.

The mounds still puzzle me. Apparently most were built in old-growth forest, so the Indians didn't have to dig through lots of roots to get the dirt; but why build them at all? For those not familiar with them, several Indian cultures built the Midwest mounds over a period of a little under a thousand years—some in the shape of animals, some as simple rounds and others as lines. Some were initially burial mounds, some had burials inserted later, and some were just mounds. Several we walked by the Perrot park were small enough (one or two hundred cubic feet or so) that a hundred people could easily build one in a couple of days. Maybe they commemorated an interclan lacrosse victory?

I should find out who founded the city across the river: Lacrosse is matched against La Crescent.

No comments: