MADISON. My first impression several years ago of Wisconsin’s capital city remains unchanged. This is a place defined by water, lots of green space, an extensive recreational trail system and residents who love their Badgers, bikes, beer and cheese.
As I’ve explored Madison, pre-COVID, I’ve always felt comfortable. And that says a lot for someone who doesn’t really like big cities all that much. Madison maintains a minimum metro feel, yet offers all the amenities of a growing urban area. During past visits, I’ve spent time downtown—including inside the capitol, restaurants and art museums—and toured the Olbrich Botanical Gardens and more.
On a visit in early July, because of the global pandemic, I confined my activities to a stop at a frozen custard shop and to walking. One evening I grabbed my camera to follow a section of the Wingra Creek Path near my daughter and son-in-law’s home. The golden hour of sunset presented ideal soft-glow lighting for photos.
While the rest of the family walked ahead, I lagged, stopping to photograph the many wildflowers that grow along the banks of Wingra Creek.
Occasionally a biker zipped by at a rate of speed which caused me concern. I recognized quickly that I needed to pay attention to activity around me and not get too lost in photographing this beautiful place.
Had I not known I was in the middle of a city, I would have thought myself in the countryside.
The water. The flowers. The lack of city noises. All define this recreational trail as a place to embrace nature.
Dog walkers. Bikers. Families out for an evening stroll. Joggers. Us. Everyone simply enjoying time outdoors with subtle reminders that we remain in a world-wide health crisis. A sign reminding trail users to social distance. A discarded face mask littering the side of the pathway.
But for a short while we mostly forgot all about the tunnel of COVID-19.
When we retraced our path and crossed a footbridge back to my daughter’s street, I almost missed the paddleboarder gliding under the bridge, so quiet was she. As I watched, I admired her skills.
And I thought, how peaceful this moment in the golden hour of a July sunset.
© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling