Friday, June 22, 2007


Spending another three days in scenic Madison Wisconsin. In spite of a couple of showers and a brief thunderstorm, the weather appears has been nothing short of glorious. I got to drive around a couple of times after work and just see the countryside. It is a stark contrast to the flat lands and tall corn of downstate Illinois.
I can remember riding the bus in high school going to Bloomington for marching band contests every year. The few of us who were perhaps more smart-assed than the rest would celebrate when we got to the "hills" along I-74. These hills could never be considered a rolling, or varied. They were just momentary dips in an otherwise almost perfectly flat plain.
This week in Wisconsin everything has been wonderfully green, and up here the hills are truly rolling, the scenery and the topography are as varied as can be. The crops up here are well on their way to full maturity not quite as tall as full we see downstate. Nearly everything is covered in a blanket of green so green against the blue skies today that words fail to describe the beauty.
As I drove rolling hills and countryside spotted by a new developments alongside old farmhouses and barns, I couldn't help but be struck by the sprawl. Yes the $600,000 mansions are nice to look at. The giant green lawns are well kept. But the juxtaposition of them sitting alongside stone farmhouses that date from the 1800s is nearly too much to look at.
I found an old farmhouse that someone had abandoned in the middle of reconstruction. It has a limestone walls that are two feet thick. It sits on a foundation of limestone that has been in place for well over 100 years.
The owners were in the middle of bringing it up to code, up to date, when something got in their way. Something as likely as trivial as time, or work, or kids. But this house, this great stone house, sat for over 100 years and will sit for 100 more even if nobody does anything to it.
They were on the right track. There is new electrical service, they installed central air conditioning they put in lighting and a new bathroom. Yet the basement remains unfinished, the floors for remain unfinished, the windows are perhaps as old as the day they were put in.
And what struck me the most about this house and the property that it sits on is that it is on the market for $329,000. It sits outside a subdivision full of people who can afford homes that cost $600,000 and up. Certainly with their money they'd bought pride, bought the land, they bought a house to showcase their wealth. But sitting less than 100 yards away, is a piece of history that less than half of that money could have brought back to glory, and no amount of money can reproduce today.
It makes me wonder what they were thinking.
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