I just finished the world’s slowest walk also known as The Madison Farmer’s Market. The pace was slow in part due to the throngs of people enjoying the chance to shop for the freshest produce to be found but also to the fact that it is the pace of a beautiful Saturday morning in Madison. For anyone who has not been able to experience it, the Farmer’s Market stands as the center piece of Madison summer Saturday mornings. The eight blocks surrounding the majestic Capital building are completely filled with all sorts of produce stands. Mushrooms to Meats, cheeses and cheese curds to cauliflower and cucumbers, fresh bread to fresh cut flowers. If you can imagine it, you can find it somewhere in those eight aroma filled blocks. Goats milk anyone? Maybe some Ostrich jerky. And did I mention the Capital views and the vista’s down side boulevards to the two largest Madison lakes? Or the view down State Street with the University and Bascom Hill at its terminus.
I came to Madison in 1977 after spending the first twenty-six years of my life figuring out how to get here. That fall, I began the next leg of a teaching career that would span twenty-one years and eventually morph into a career in financial planning. In the ensuing years, I have owned two homes on the eclectic East Side, met my wife and raised two beautiful children. I am currently enjoying being a part of the raising of two grandchildren and loving the fact that they can grow up here in Madison. I have sat on the world famous Union Terrace chairs, ridden on all of her bike trails, taken in countless music venues in her parks, restaurants and saloons (sounds so much more inviting than bars), soaked in the culture of Art Fair on the Square, oohed and awed at Rhythm and Booms and cheered on the Muskies, Mad Hatters and eventually the Mallards baseball teams. I have boated on her lakes, Monona and Mendota, watched water ski shows on her bay, yes that bay, the one with the “dock of it” and rode my bike along their shores. And on gorgeous fall afternoons I ate savory brats, washed downed with local craft beers and cheered on The Badgers at venerable and historic Camp Randall.
If I sound like a tourism ad it is because one cannot help but fall in love with this city. The activities it offers are countless. The culture it supports is woven into its fabric. The vistas and changing seasons are its own personal art gallery. From its lakes and parks to its gardens and architecture, there is no shortage of scenery to satisfy any of the senses.
Forty years have passed since I moved in to my little apartment on the South Side of Madison and I have never reconsidered that move. I guess taking that slow Saturday morning walk around the Square today made me realize and appreciate this city and all it offers. The crowds just reminded me I wasn’t the only one to feel that way. Hopefully there will be countless more slow Saturday mornings and my chance to remind my children and grandchildren who have lived in no other place, to never take it for granted. Take the walk, slow down and enjoy the views. Madison welcomes you every time.