Ed: I've just been informed that blue skies bringing tears was a song by Smashing Pumpkins. In my defense, Smashing Pumpkins were waaaay after my time, and I don't know the song, but something makes me think they probably weren't admiring the Autumn skies over Nebraska. I'm so damn old, and so damn out of touch with the popular culture it is pathetic.
They sky was so beautiful, blue, and shining today, it could bring you to tears. I love the way the light looks this time of year in Nebraska.
We had a beautiful, sunny, not-too-warm day to explore some new places in Saunders and Butler Counties.
First up, was Valparaiso. I've lived just across highway 77 from Valparaiso for eleven years, yet somehow managed never going there. It isn't the sort of place one needs to go through to get anywhere else (unless you're headed to Touhy)but we finally went to have a look around. It is a smaller town than ours, by about three hundred people. The fact that residents can be counted in hundreds should give you an idea how small the place is. Still, they have a Post Office, a couple bars, library, and a bank. It certainly appeared a thriving community.
I love the children's decorated banner across the front desk.
The old bank has been converted into a lovely little library, with the shiny door to the safe still a prominent feature of the building. The children's reading room is just adorable, and I (almost) wish I could go back in time, be a child again, and sit in that warm room of tables and little bookcases choosing books from a thoughtful collection. Someone put some real effort into making the best of a small space, and succeeded.
We walked down the main street, got a somewhat incoherent outburst from an inebriated young man in front of the bar mid morning (To Mr. ETB, "You better take care of that girl there.") I dunno, maybe I look like I need, "Taking care of", but I don't think he was in much condition to do it for him, in case he wasn't up to the job. We assume he meant sex, not setting up housekeeping, paying bills, and maintaining employment. So that was interesting.
Next, we went to visit Touhy, which is even smaller (a handful of families, though they have a tavern that serves food). We walked around the grounds of the large church (suggesting the town was once more populated) and peeked inside (in rural America they still leave the Catholic churches open in case someone wants to go in and you know, pray. I'm old enough to remember when this was the case in the large cities as well. When the neighbourhood church in Boston started locking the doors at night to keep out the homeless, I knew we were doomed, and it was time to leave. I'm glad there's still places where they probably don't even have a key to the church). The view from the hill is unexpected. Once you cross highway 77 heading west, the land gets more hills, and contrary to the image eastern Nebraska has as a flat, cornfield laced environment, there's quite a bit of hills and prairie. I feel silly suggesting tourists head to Touhy, Nebraska to view a scenic vista from the parking lot of the church-but that's exactly what I'm suggesting. Bring your camera.
Yes, that's Mr. ETB in the braces. Not some, "I work as a stockbroker, and drive a Cadillac" braces, but "These here hold up my pants" braces, which in these parts are called, suspenders. In these parts, what I'd call, suspenders is called, a garter belt. Anyway, I like the photograph because it looks like he's trying to get into the church, which would be rather unlikely as he hasn't darkened the doorway of one since primary school. He always got in trouble anyway carrying out mock crucifixions on the giant roaches they had in Hawaii, and drawing nipples on the pictures of Jesus.
Leaving Saunders County behind, we headed to David City in Butler County to buy a fly swatter. Ten years ago, I bought a metal mesh fly swatter at the hardware store in David City, and I liked it. We were halfway there, so we went back, bought another fly swatter, a nice hand-grinder for chocolate, and a spatula for canning. I should be good for another ten years. Since we were there, it became a two-library day as we went to see the building. Oh goodness, as lovely as the Valparaiso library was, the children's reading room at David City made me wish I lived there-in the library, not the town. Sun pouring in through large picture windows, an enclosed courtyard rose garden to peer out on, a box of checkers on the table for children to play-and books! Not a row of electronic media, not comic books...but books, with print, and binding, and interesting titles. Unfortunately, you don't see enough of that in libraries these days. They still use Dewey Decimal, which also makes me happy because I don't have warm childhood memories of wandering my local library using Library of Congress shelving. So yes, another destination worthy of the road trip-go on a sunny day to make the most of the natural light. Don't forget to stop at the hardware store and pick up a fly swatter.
I like how the architecture begins to look Western once you enter Butler County.
Finally, we dragged ourselves over to Brainard for a tour of Fox Run Farms. I'll be honest, I didn't want to go. I see enough farm all week- at the weekend, I'm ready to see something that isn't fly spattered, and covered in dirt. I think I'm suffering, "farm fatigue" but after eleven years, I don't see being able to tolerate city living again. Maybe I need suburbia. Anyway, we were drawn by the promise of a vineyard tour, and bubbles. Homemade bubbles, which they specialise in. Oh, I know what you're thinking, but if I caved, bought a gigantic bottle of the stuff, and a handmade wand to dip in the liquid, you know they have to be pretty special bubbles. We had a difficult time dragging Danny out of there (I mean, they had a swing, and bubbles, and chickens, and grownups to pester besides his parents-why would he want to leave?). A couple hours later, we did finally depart, Danny sniffling back tears that were only held in place by the promise that we'd probably need to go back to purchase bubble refills. I have to return, as I forgot to snap a photo of the gorgeous historic barn. We also came home with two aubergines, and several red peppers which are destined for caponata tomorrow.
When I was a child my stoner-drum playing-teenaged neighbour tried to do something similar for us kids from the tree on our parkway. It would have been OK, but he hung the thing too close to the tree so that we were basically swinging into the tree. He was a nice guy, but not too bright, or at least, kinda impaired. Anyway, this swing worked much better. Would you look at that smile on kiddo? He never smiles that way at home when I'm screaming at him to clean his room.
You know you want one of those bubble wands-admit it. I'll bet they could ship you one. Or twenty. You'll want the soap as well.
Today was so nice, I'm almost afraid to leave the house tomorrow for fear of jinxing a terrific weekend.