This post begins my fourth year of writing and sharing blog articles! On November 13, 2015 I uploaded my first article, I didn’t know what I was doing and made a lot of beginner mistakes during those first few months. But, to my surprise I kept at it (I often start something then get bored and move on but not this), took the critiques from friends and family and made improvements. That being said, I’m still learning and hopefully improving my craft and photos to deliver something satisfying to you, my readers. But as I’ve said before, I do this mostly for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and photos with you, as you keep me both honest and enthusiastic about sitting down each week to craft a new article. So this mission has become the way to express and remember some of our travel experiences and those moments that have an impact on us. Sure there is the awe of seeing and experiencing some of the natural and man made wonders of the world but the most memorable are those moments when we meet and connect with the people from other cultures both here and abroad and leave as friends. I look forward to bring you weekly posts for another year and to use some slang, “if the creek don’t rise.”
Now back to my continuing series from Door County, Wisconsin taken from our 24 day stay from late September through most of October. This week I’ll focus on a few cultural events that we experienced while living in the north land.
One of the most memorable experiences was attending a reading and discussion by the current United States Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith. First, a little about poet laureates and then a little about Ms. Smith. The Poet Laureate is an appointed position made by the Head Librarian of the Library of Congress. The Laureates receive a $40,000 annual stipend for salary and travel funded by an endowment without too many strings attached. The first Poet Laureate was appointed in 1937 and with a few exceptions there’s been one every year since then. Poets Laureate typically serve for two or three years and usually focus on a project during their terms. Tracy Smith is the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States following in the footsteps of famous poets such as Robert Frost and Robert Penn Warren. She’s a graduate of Harvard and Columbia and is currently on the faculty at Princeton. Ms. Smith has taken up the cause of bringing poetry and poetry education to rural areas of the U.S. hence her appearance in Door County. She spent the day with students at Door County schools and then made the evening presentation for the public at the Southern Door County Auditorium in Brussels. We found her story, style and poetry very engaging even for a couple unsophisticated bumpkins! It was a fun and refreshing evening.
During our stay in Door County, we visited the Sturgeon Bay Library almost everyday, mainly because of free internet access but also it’s well stocked and comfortable place to relax. We checked out books, movies and magazines and on one afternoon took in the open rehearsal of a string quartet that was performing later that week at a Door County event in Egg Harbor. These young musicians were very accomplished and enthusiastic about sharing their talents. This group was so new that they were soliciting ideas for a name, thus the jars on the table for voting and suggesting a name. Very original!
The Peninsula School of the Arts in Fish Creek hosted it’s ninth annual community iron pour on a Saturday evening. They attracted quite a crowd for this event with over 200 people plunking down $20 each to create a 5″ by 5″ tile etched into a sand and resin mold. Although we didn’t personally create tiles (we were there because it sounded interesting and we were curious), we learned a lot. We didn’t even know that iron pours are a thing and there’s a group of people (mostly artists) that organize and support pours in the area where they live. There’s even societies and organizations revolving around pours, I guess just like photography events and exhibitions.
When we arrived, people were busy working on their creations and then lining them up for the pour to begin at dusk. Below you can see some the interesting and creative designs made by the participants. Some were very simple while others were very complex.
In the meantime, the pouring crew was busy preparing the iron that would be melted down in the “furnace” or cupola that eventually ends up in the molds. We learned that the iron is recycled from old bathtubs and other sources.
You may have noticed there were a lot of women involved in this iron pour. The woman below answered tons of questions from curious bystanders, she indicated that she participates in 10-12 community pours a year with a rotating crew. Most of the crew members are artists or art educators along with some folks interested in playing with fire!
Once the iron is hot enough, the plug on the furnace is removed and the iron begins to flow. Crew members fill a “bucket” that’s designed to pour the hot metal into the molds.
Due to the cold weather, we left before the molds cooled enough to be broken apart and reveal the finished tiles. Some of the participants stayed around to take their creations home that night while others came back the next morning. It was a fun event and now I know a lot more about iron pours and know that when they come around to the Madison area, it’s something I’ll attend, maybe even try designing a tile.
Also while in Door County, we attended a performance of the folk group, the Kingston Trio, at the North Door County Auditorium in Fish Creek (no photos allowed!). The Kingston Trio came on to the music scene in the mid 50’s so suffice to say, the group we saw perform was not the original members of the trio. Over the years, the Trio had performers come and go but there is a family connection with the current group members. It was a very relaxing and fun night, I particularly liked the sing-a-long portion when we joined the chorus to “Tom Dooley” their number one hit that came out in 1958. Reminded me of listening to one of the only radio stations we could get at the farm as a kid, KFYR 550 on your radio dial, and hearing this song. It’s funny when that nostalgia hits you!
We also attended a production at the Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay titled “Billy Bishop Goes to War.” This two person musical dramatizes the life of a Canadian citizen, Billy Bishop, goes off to fight in World War I. The acting and music were excellent and the story line was very compelling. Another enjoyable evening!
That does for this week, next up Adventures in Door County Wisconsin-Part 3.
Until then, travel safe.