Tag Archives: spring break

City Girl, Country Girl

By: Colleen

It is the small, quiet moments in life that truly call out to my poetic soul.  The quiet and chill of an early morning run, an undercurrent of vibrant excitement caught in the trill of the birds.  The silence that comes (every once in awhile!) out in the fields, the summer sun setting, the dirt deep and dark underneath my hands.  And last week, I found that quiet as I sat upon the banks of the Potomac, in milky, early Spring sun.  The boats slipped by quietly, I could see away and off into Maryland across the shore; and life was beautiful.

For Spring Break, I traveled to the Washington, DC area to visit friends and explore a bit of the East coast.  I grew up dreaming of boarding school on the East coast, my dreamy little head filled with images of school uniforms and dormitories, curled up with a book of the same subject  in a patch of sunlight in our roomy, white farmhouse.  As I grew up, that dream faded into the background, and I found myself in school way down in Dallas, TX, just about one of the least romantic places I could think of.  So, when I got the opportunity to spend a week on the East coast for break, I jumped on the chance.

My absolute favorite day was the one spent in Alexandria, Virginia, just off the blue line of the Metro.  I headed out in the morning, bought my metro pass, and navigated my way down into the depths of the metro station.  There was something so freeing about taking the metro by myself.  And yet, standing on the platform and waiting for the train in my deep green pea coat and tall blacks boots, I felt so very far away from home.  The rush and bustle of the metro and the city excite me, but also makes me recess farther into myself, my iPod in my ears and the far away look in my eyes that I recently learned to adopt.  And so, it was with a small sigh of relief that I exited the metro at King Street Station, and headed down historic King Street in old Town Alexandria.  immediately, I was in love.

The street was lined with coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants.  It was as if the town knew me, my likes and dislikes, a simple girl from Wisconsin with an avid love of all things Francais.

fromage

american in paris(I actually did end up going into this one, and was promptly frightened out by the saleswoman who told me that you weren’t allowed to touch the clothing in the store except by the hangers and had a genuine witch’s cackle.  You can’t win them all, I suppose.)

baguette

I grabbed lunch at this little French bistro, filled to the brim with breads and cheeses, and headed down to the river, swinging my baguette sandwich by my hand.  After lunch, I wandered into the side streets, house hunting.  Since I had fallen in love with the town, I needed to find a place to live other than the cafes. There are shutters on almost every house in the town, and mysterious, hidden gardens behind curved gates, colored red, green, and blue.  This house was a little too small:

house

My friends and I agreed: this is a little more my size:

big house

I’ll admit that I was a little worried that the real owners of the house might come out and ask me what I was doing posing on their front steps  so we smiled quickly.  The house was absolutely lovely, as was the town.   I could see myself there, taking early morning runs next to the river, finding a private high school to teach at, and coming home to a (small) apartment with green shutters on the windows.

But, the Midwestern, Slattery girl in me knows that she would and could also be completely content in a house more like this, filled with family and love.

farm house

I peeked into a courtyard in Alexandria and found this gem.  And I was back home in an instant.  No matter how far you go, you’re never really far from home.  My feet will always be bare and dirty, I’ll always defend raw milk, and I’ll always love the country, where one can breath and live and be.

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Creek Jumpin’

by Colleen

While Kate may have been busy with her sophisticated city adventures, I was busy showing my friends a good time in the country. Once the snow melted and we had all already tromped a few miles up and up and eventually down the hills surrounding our home in Middle Ridge, WI, it was time to come up with something more daring to do. And so I proposed the idea of a little Polar Bear Swim in the creek. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my Southern friends, but to my happy surprise they did not look at me like I was a crazy idiot and walk away shaking their heads. “Haha, suckers,” I thought to myself. “You don’t know what you’ve been swindled into.”

What we had in store were the icy waters of Coon Creek, the little swimming hole which my family has populated every summer for as long as I can remember. Spring fed with a surprisingly strong current, the deep green waters have chilled me on even the hottest summer days. Luckily, I was the only one with this knowledge, and not wanting to scare my friends off, I kept it that way. And so, on a sunny but brisk 35 degree day, we made the ten mile drive down to Coon Valley and to the creek.

The troops and I made the walk down the path to the creekside.

Layers were shed.

And consultations about the the intelligence of this move were made.

“Okay guys, now how the heck are we gonna do this??”  Selena, Hermes, and Killian, weaklings all, were worried about the rocks.  Pffffttt, come on!  There was no choice but a heroic leap.  And so we all lined up for the Olympian feat.

Too impatient to listen to their dither, I ran on headlong and leapt into the icy waters, followed closely by the rest.

And it was cold, oh so very cold.  To my utter humiliation, it was noted by everyone that I screamed loudest upon breaking surface.  Texas-what have you done to my Midwestern toughness??  But to climb out of the water was amazing.  The cold penetrated everything but in a way, I was the most awake and alive then I’d ever been.  From my purple feet to my blue lips, I tingled and shook.  And it was lovely.  I looked into the pale noonday sun and just smiled with joy.

I was so proud of my friends, each of which fared as well or better than I in our creek jumpin’ excursion.  To finally find people as crazy as me, what a blessing!  I think I have the toughest Southern friends ever.  And I think that maybe, just maybe, next time I’ll take them to the creek when it’s oh, say 50 degrees?, hotter.  But I don’t think it will be nearly the same.

Spring Break- a Tale of Snow

by Colleen

My Spring Break was pretty much the most fun one can have while in Wisconsin in early March (meaning, while in cold mud).  I brought back four of my friends, Southerners one and all, and introduced them to a little of la vie campagne.  We arrived latish on a Sunday night, to a Momless house (isn’t it odd, the disarray that seems to be in even the most orderly house when the mother isn’t at home?).  She and Dad were across the road at St. Peter’s Church, and I waited impatiently for them to come home.  Mom arrived first in order to supply the troops with food; we’d been promised homemade pizza, but as usual, it was all gone before we arrived.  Thanks, everyone.

The next day, I woke up early, excited to show off my life back home to all my friends.  I was fairly confident that they would enjoy it, but still that nagging fear of boring my friends to death lingered about.  So, as soon as the boys were up and revived with a few homemade pancakes, I took them out to the pasture to sled.  I had a one up one most of my friends, some of whom had never sledded before, so I took great glee in whizzing past them, whipping up snow clouds as I passed.

Later that night, just the boys, Hermes and Killian, and I went out to sled under the silver sky.  Ice had formed a slick and shining layer over the snow, and we rushed down the hill faster than ever before.  It was not enough, though; I insisted that we all needed to pile into one sled and go down the hill, convinced that we’d get even more speed.  Regrettably, what worked in my childhood did not here.  Our combined weight pressed the sled into the snow, and we couldn’t budge.  But I was not to be stopped!

Using the brilliant logic of a Slattery, I searched around the barn and found to my delight a large piece of sheet metal siding for the barn, unused.  “Perfect!” I exclaimed.  The boys were not so sure.  “Come on, come on, don’t be babies,” the age old insult.  And so, I dragged the metal to the crest of the hill and sat down.  I’d go with or without them.  They hopped on behind me.  With a devilish grin, I pushed off and we went screaming down the hill.  Literally.  The boys bailed, but I stayed on until the very end and sat there glowing and gloating in the cold night air as they came down to see if I was still alive.  I was very much so.

Thus began my week at home.  More tales to follow!

West(Wisconsin)ward Ho!

by Colleen

Well, hey there.  It seems to have been approximately forever in the blogging sphere since I’ve written…but I’m back!  Even with midterms looming this week, I took my orders and am doing a blog post.  You know it’s serious when Mary actually asks you to do a post. I would put up all the paltry school excuses which actually are valid, but I simply don’t have the time to list them all.  And it’s not important.  What is important is this: in one week I will be back in Wisconsin!

Spring break starts next Saturday, and while most college students will be heading to the beach for booze and debauchery, I will be heading home with four of my friends to (hopefully) temperatures in the upper 30s.  And we’re all pumped.  I do feel a bit of pity for my friends, a group of Southerners from Texas, Missouri, and South Carolina.  In response to their questions about proper attire for the cold, I simply stated, “Do you KNOW how many hats, coats, gloves, scarves, and  mittens we have in our house??”

I feel that I managed to offer sufficient attractions, though: beer, cheese, bonfires, wood stoves, bluffs, my family.  What more could one ask for?  Okay, yes a beach with pearly white sands and sun.  And luckily, all my friends are optimists about the 18 hour car trip up.  Me, on the other hand, would gladly like to be unconscious for all driving.  Yup, please just knock me out.  Oh, the sacrifices I will go through to get home!

My Southern friends are about to get a taste of the Slattery household. complete with cocky little brothers mouthing off at the table

the beautiful St. Peter’s,

and there is bound to be some ping pong.

Get ready, my friends!  It’s going to be a long ride, but in the end it will all be worth it.  Spring Break 2012: Wisconsin!  Home.