However, recently this past week, we had occasion to go to Madison, Wisconsin and stay overnight. Our oldest child had been accepted to play with the State Honors Band last spring. This was a huge accomplishment! The concert, and culmination of months of practice, was this past Thursday. So, off we went to stay in our capitol city.
As many know, Madison is a college town. It is also quite famous for its politics. Our school children all visit the capitol during their elementary years. It is a gorgeous building....politics aside. Many of our high schoolers decide to return to the capitol for the outstanding education that is offered there at UW-Madison.
I'll be honest. We haven't always enjoyed our visits to Madison. It is, after all, a city. With that comes noise, congestion, chaos, and sometimes confusion. Our high school senior, really being talented enough to choose anywhere in the country to attend college, has not chosen Madison. Not that there is anything wrong with it, just that particular campus is not a good fit for him.
But, being there for 36 hours this past week was very enjoyable! I came home liking Madison more than I ever have. And I have to admit, I do miss some aspects of city life. My husband and I do know what it is like to live in a city, as we have lived and worked in the larger urban areas of Philadelphia and Baltimore, and called smaller cities such as Buffalo, New York home, as well.
You see being in Madison reminded me that a city offers diversity of many kinds.
Area of Diversity #1- FOOD
The food was great and there was a lot to choose from! We chose Ginos Italian Restaurant, which is known as a Madison institution. But, there was sushi, Indian, thai, you name it and Madison has a restaurant for it! We have missed that diversity of flavor, living in a small mid-western community that doesn't stray far from its bratwurst. Coffee houses abound, as towards the end of our weary walking tour (waiting for concert time), we found ourselves taking refuge in Michelangelo's on State Street for an afternoon tea. All of this was with two middle schoolers in tow. Oh, and I can't forget about the ice cream!
Area of Diversity #2 - PEOPLE
What a great place to people watch. All kinds of people can be seen everywhere you go! Students, professors, community members, all mixing and interacting with tolerance for one another.
Area of Diversity #3 - ARCHITECTURE
We walked for six hours on the city and campus streets during our Madison visit. Luckily, the weather (and no one can complain about our fall), was on the comfortably warm side and while not sunny, not raining, either. It was so enjoyable to see so many kinds of buildings. From the Old Lutheran Church with its door flung open, to the newly built place of worship that seemed just as inviting. The Overture Center for the Arts is a stunning example of modern architecture set amidst all the shops and restaurants downtown, but fitting in beautifully as it offers free admission for the Contemporary Museum of Art and a wonderful concert venue that our family was privileged to experience first hand as audience members and a performer, as well.
While we were visiting Madison, we needed to find activities to occupy our boys while we were waiting to arrive at the concert venue. We decided upon the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. I wanted, in the very least, to show them this gorgeous building that I had seen last spring during a campus visit. Luckily, they were hosting a FREE drop-in field trip for any interested K-12 student on four different science topics! WOW! We walked the mile from our hotel to the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery. First our boys got to experiment with feral fluid and find out how nano technology is used in material science. Next, one went to the anatomy lab to dissect a cow eye ball while the other (more squeamish son) went to use pipettes and find out about stem cell research. Finally, there was a video game lab experimenting on how to teach mindfulness to our students. All of the labs were run by enthusiastic adults, anxious to enrich our youth! Oh, how I miss the opportunities found in a city! Especially a city as educationally based and forward thinking as Madison. The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery understands that the private sector and public section has to work together to advance society and find solutions for some of the most complex issues of today! Kudos to them for putting this idea to work!
As we ended our trip with enjoying some wonderful music, played by the most talented high school musicians in the state of Wisconsin, I found myself missing all that a city has to offer. It energized me to be around other adults who want to offer enrichment to today's youth and do that in a way everyone can enjoy! I am bringing that enthusiasm back to my own community this week. If you have read any of my other non-jewelry blog posts, you know that I have been an avid volunteer educating our youth in a variety of areas; horticulture, science, and writing. I am thankful to have enjoyed Madison and return home invigorated to provide educational opportunities for local youth, outside a classroom setting. While I know I don't have to live in a city, I think I've realized that visiting one more often than I have in the last few years can be very enjoyable!
Thanks for stopping by! Have a GREAT week!
P.S. Some of my love of photography can be seen in my etsy shop where select pieces are sold!
Check it out! http://carolsjewelryorchard.etsy.com