Picaresque Peninsula

Door County in Wisconsin seems a world apart. The scenery is stunning, as if the world’s best landscape, seascape, and country artists were each given a piece of the peninsula to paint. Anywhere your gaze rests is a pristine and perfect scene.

What seems anathema to the rest of the world is welcome, including dandelions. Whole fields of the luscious yellow blooms! I have always liked the tenacious flower, and have never understood why they are so despised. (Somehow I managed not to get a photo of the yellow fields. Don’t know how that happened.)

Making the place seem even more of a world apart is the absence of franchises in any of the villages. (The ubiquitous big name stores and fast food joints are all strung along a single portion of a highway in Sturgeon Bay.) Each restaurant we patronized was different, though all had delicious specialties, made-from-scratch baked goods, and friendly employees. In many cases, the owners worked alongside their staff, and the absence of any dissension between them made the meal even more pleasant. Each building that housed the restsurants were also unique, the most notable being the Swedish restaurant. It had been built in Norway, disassembled, and brought to Wisconsin and reassembled. It was too early in the season for the goats to be out, but in the summer, goats grazed on the traditional grass roof.

(Other Norwegian buildings found a place on the peninsula, such as the hand-made and hand-carved chapel.)

Putting the final touches on the picaresque peninsula, bits of art and daphodils peeped out wherever you look. (Apparently once there had been a fundraiser to sell naturalizing daffodil bulbs, and people planted them in usual and unusual places.)

I didn’t mean to make this sound like a travelogue, just wanted to explain some of photos attached to this blog, but it’s hard not to sound like a travelogue when trying to describe such the perfect visit (and perfect weather!) I experienced in Door County.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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Wowed in Wisconsin

Sometimes on this great adventure of mine, I think I’ve seen it all. Well, not truly “all”. No one can. But so many places seem like other places, especially when it comes to shopping centers or suburban neighborhoods. Often one tree-lined road looks like another, or a body of water seems like . . . oh, let me think . . . like a body of water. I worry that I am becoming jaded, and then one day I turn a corner and fall into a perpetual state of awe.

In this particular case, I crossed the iron bridge at Sturgeon Bay and entered what seemed a fairy tale setting. A wonderland. It’s as if the entire peninsula of Door County, the thumb of Wisconsin, knew I was coming and polished everything to a brilliant gleam. Colors seem sharper here, as if every scene has been photo-enhanced to an unreal gloss. I passed a flower box of blooming tulips and narcissus, and had to touch the flowers to make sure they were real. The green of the trees, the grass, the fields look newly air-brushed. The waters of the bays and lakes are an astonishing mix of vibrant blue and teal.

My host has very graciously driven me around the peninsula to show me the sights — and oh, what sights there are! Fabulous jewel-like waters. Forest floors painted white with trillium. Marsh marigolds brightening broody marshes. Farms that look as if they belong in a children’s story book.

Even the shipbuilding plant on the bay looks more mythic than monstrous.

Adding to this sense of having entered a wonderland, we had beef wellington at an English inn that looked like something out of a fairy tale.

As a writer and lover of words, I should be able to come up with a better exclamation than “wow,” if for no other reason than to keep from boring my host, but the truth is, this place has wowed me.

Just . . .wow.

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(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

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