Reasons why I miss Wisconsin (Milwaukee, Madison: power lines, how much, houses)
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I posted this last year, but I'm reposting it since it is moving season, and I want people who are moving to Wisconsin to know what I miss. In other words, some things that make Wisconsin a wonderful place to live.
Reasons why I miss Wisconsin in general and Madison
I have lived away from Wisconsin for 18 years, but I come back to visit twice a year. I'm starting this thread to counter-balance some of the scarey, over-the-top threads I have read here. I won't say WI is perfect, no place is, but if my husband could find a job here I would move back. Here are some of the things I miss about Wisconsin in no particular order of importance.
1. Fall; Autumn. The beautiful foilage and hillsides covered in blazing colors, the fresh snap to the air.
2. Holy Hill in the fall.
3. Apple orchards in the fall. How I miss the scent of fresh apple cider being pressed, and then drinking said cider later that day.
4. American Players Theater in Spring Green--a forty minute drive from Madison. I wish I were walking up the hill to see a Shakespearian play right now. The sound of the whipoorwills and crickets under a starry sky while watching "A Midsummer's Night Dream" by some of the best actors in the business--well life doesn't get much better than that for me.
5. Madison Rep. Theater. Small, intimate with very good plays.
6. Badger football games. I'm not a huge sports fan, but the sea of red and the amazing marching band always does it for me.
7. Friday night fish fries.
8. A brandy old fashioned sweet before the fish fry.
9. Living somewhere with mainly Catholics and Lutherans...they don't try to convert you constantly. I moved to Texas and all of sudden my neighbors were asking me which church I belong to. I'm Jewish,and don't necessarily feel like announcing my religion two minutes after meeting someone. Nobody once ever asked me what church I belong to in Wisconsin.
10. The excellent public schools. My kids have attended great schools in Texas because we have lived in very affluent areas, but WI schools don't just teach to the test--the teachers are encouraged to use creative teaching styles and to encourage creativity in students. I have been to the Destination Imagination Global finals three times with my kids' teams, and I was amazed at how many WI teams were in the top five in their categories. This from such a small state!
11. Sitting in the house at night watching giant snowflakes come down--so cozy.
12. Walking at night during a snowfall. There is a muffled hush on an evening like that and only the crunch of snow under your feet can be heard.
13. The many festivals and art fairs during the summer. Any weekend in the summer you can find a festival or art fair close to Madison.
14. Concerts on the square in Madison.
15. Being able to wear a light jacket in the summer. What a relief!
16. High school football stadiums that look like they belong to a high school, not a college, because education, not football is the priority.
18. The little towns that look so neat and tidy and charming.
19. Being able to ski on a week night after work. I could drive up to Devil's Head or Cascade Mt. and be back by 10 pm. Sure they aren't mountains--just hills, but that's a lot of fun.
20. Lakes, lots of lakes. How many wonderful hours did I spend sailing, water skiing, or just lying out in the sand next to many beautiful lakes in Madison and the surrounding area. I'm thinking about Devil's Lake right now.
21. Hiking and jogging by the lakes and in the woods.
22. The pretty green rolling hills of Southwest WI.
23. The fact that WI is a swing state. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican your vote really counts. In many states, like Texas, you are out of luck if you are in the opposing party. I'm a Democrat, and my vote hasn't counted and will probably never count.
24. The freedom kids have. My sister lives in a suburb of Milwaukee and her children and her neighbors are outside all day on their bikes, running around. There weren't "play dates" when they were young. Some kid would just come knocking on the door like when I was a kid.
25. The mixture of older and newer homes. When you live in new suburbs of big cities, the houses are very cookie cutter. In WI, there is a variety.
OK, that's 25 reasons off the top of my head. Wisconsin isn't perfect, but it has a lot of great attributes that I truly miss. I'm sure when I move to Albuquerque next month, there will be many wonderful things about Texas I will miss too.
That list made more appreciate Wisconsin even more. Many times I think about other places that I would love to live someday. However Wisconsin has that tidy, cozy, caring attitude. I wish you guys luck in getting back here someday.
Moderator of Milwaukee, WI forum
I've been living in Japan for the past 2 years. I'm coming back to the US in the end of July, though. Reading this made me feel SO good. I agree with many of yours and wanted to make a list of my own. Here it is, but it might be peppered with homesick-for-America references.
1. small towns. Japan has 1/3 the population of the US with the land area of California. All of the towns run together and I miss having woods and fields breaking apart the small communities. I feel a little closed in here.
2. coffee-shop/diners. I miss sitting down in small, locally owned greasy-spoons for a cup of coffee and breakfast. Fayze's of La Crosse, The Kitchen Table of Marshfield, and B's Cafe of Ashland come to mind.
3. bars. Not so much the binge-drinking, but being able to go out to some hole-in-the-wall and talk to people, get a good meal and a good beer, and shoot the breeze with whoever's there all with paying as little as 10 dollars!
4. red gravel roads lined with fields and forests.
5. Friday night fish fries.
6. The brick buildings in the center of every town. I love that architecture and I didn't realize how much I would miss it until it was gone.
7. Summer festivals. Japan has wonderful festivals, but all I really want when I'm there is a brat, some music, and a beer. Riverfest in La Crosse, Wisconsin Riverfest in Wausau, etc. I miss them.
8. Pleasant summer weather. Japan's is rainy, cloudy, humid, hot, and unpredictable.
9. Christmas. Take our holiday and remove all of the goodwill, joy, and excitement from it and add extra materialism, work, and indifference. There's Japan's Christmas.
11. The Driftless region in autumn. Japan prides itself on it's 4 seasons, but they don't have ANYTHING on a Wisconsin fall.
12. the Wisconsin and Eau Claire Dells. beautiful and worthy of a photo every time.
13. Pontooning in Lake DuBay north of Stevens Point. You go out on a pontoon or a boat, meet up with other people, talk for a bit and move on. Fantastic days.
14. Modesty and friendliness. Every time I've come back to Wisconsin I love how everyone dresses casually, smiles at everyone, and isn't afraid to talk.
15. Hiking in the woods, seeing waterfalls, camping, and fishing.
16. The Wisconsin accent. I'm not the only American working in my area, but when I call home and hear the accent it's like being wrapped in a warm blanket; especially, as an English teacher. I'm supposed to mellow the way I pronounce things to "standardize" it for the kids.
17. In order of rank: Wausau, La Crosse, Ashland, Madison, and Milwaukee. Completely different, completely Wisconsin cities, fantastic for completely different reasons and I wouldn't feel like I was finished at home if I didn't visit each one.
18. Halloween with crunchy fallen leaves, pumpkins, and crisp air.
19. Swimming off the islands in the Mississippi (then taking a long shower with a hard scrub afterward)
20. venison, walleye, perch, and anything else produced from our forests
21. Cheese!!! I found cheese from Wisconsin here, but not a lot of variety and it's not the same unless you can buy it from a dairy or a cheese factory.
22. Cheese curds (deserves it's own slot )
23. Driving along Lake Superior, seeing the Apostle Islands and the small towns along the way.
24. Driving in the summer with the windows down, looking out for deer, and seeing the fireflies in the woods and the grass along the road.
25. The Packers, Brewers, and Badgers.
Now that I'm sufficiently nostalgic for home, I think I might make a few calls. Thanks again for the post! 3 more months!
Thank you bananamana for a wonderful list. Since I have never lived "up north", you added a lot from that region. I didn't list it on my list, but I agree about the Wisconsin accent. I also teach English and my Texan students used to laugh at how I said "roof", "route" and found my insistence on the word "bubbler" to be hilarious.
Maybe someone else can help me phrase this better but here I go: in Wisconsin, in average to bigger cities, even at the busiest freeway and crossroad intersections, the stop lights are similar in size to those in small towns and at small intersections. They don't have that long extended "arm" that goes over 3 lanes of a 6 lane throughoufare. It almost always feels like you are in a small city, even if you are in a legitimately congested or busy spot.
Almost all "major" streets are 4 lanes, except turning lanes. Most have a green median in the middle and are lined with trees-trees that are never hat racked. Hopefully, the Wisconsin posters don't even KNOW what this means, but sadly it is something I have seen everywhere except Wisconsin. The lack of above line power lines is something that is unique to Wisconsin from what I have seen as well. The lack of traffic in general, when compared to other states, is wonderful for getting around. I also miss the nice, genuine people that are not pretentious at all. The sincerity and passion that people feel for their community and state is very noticeable. I don't know if those are qualities that the original settlers instilled, but there is a lot of pride in taking care of one's yard and being respectful and tolerant of others...very admirable qualities and good ingredients for being good neighbors. Those traits in the residents are some of Wisconsin's best assets.
I also love the Wisconsin summer where you have a string of mild, sunny days, then it gets hot humid and stormy for a string, and then reverts back to mild and the cycle continues. Something for everybody. Also, the incredible lushness in the summertime makes Wisconsin look like a tropical climate or greenhouse from the air. It really makes up for the bleakness during other months, if only it lasted longer...OK, sorry for rambling!
PS, has anyone notices that yards in Wisconsin cities tend to be larger than elsewhere? It seems like even if they "cram" houses into a new subdivision, they still have huge backyards. I guess that is why everyone plants trees and the state has such a lush appearance in summer...
It's when a tree is "trimmed" so severly it is left looking like a hat rack with only a few stubs where the main branches meet the main trunk. It keeps the tree canopy small and dense and takes YEARS to grow back and usually the trees never recover.
#18 of the op's list.
Small towns are much nicer here than in a lot of places.
Where I grew up, there was a lot of poverty in small towns to begin with, and whatever charm and usefulness the downtowns had was taken away by Wal-Mart and a number of other national chain stores and restaurants, even in the most podunk of places. I don't intend to start a debate on that topic, but I've seen it happen to so many small towns it definitely was a pattern. There are small towns out there that have the big city pattern of blight and decay in the older parts, while the newer stores further out will have newer subdivisions all around them. The rest is forgotten about and almost completely ignored.
Then there's the enormous meth problem in other places that Wisconsin so far doesn't seem overwhelmed by...
Thanks for this post. I'm considering a move to Wisconsin and I like to research things to death before deciding. I have visited a couple times in the past few months and really love it. I know visiting isn't the same as living, so anything I can read from current and former residents is helpful.
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