Welcome back for another episode of Traveling with Tom featuring photos and stories about people from the Madison area. We’ve had the good fortune to live in the city of Madison for the past 33 years. It’s the Capital of Wisconsin and home to the University of Wisconsin- Madison, one of the top research and education institutions in the United States, if not the world. The city itself has a population of about 260,000 with about 650,000 people in the greater metropolitan area that includes the surrounding counties. It’s often ranked as one of the best cities to live in the US. When we first moved here so I could attend the University, Madison had somewhat of a small town flavor, a close knit community, people who rely and help one another, and a steady economy. That’s certainly changed in the intervening years resulting in a bigger city feel, more people, more traffic, more cultural opportunities, and all the good and not so good stuff that comes with rapid growth. One positive is that the economy is quite stable with state government and the University as anchors.
What I like about Madison is the quirkiness and diversity of it’s people and culture, and the lean to the left politically. In the late 1970’s, former Governor Lee Dreyfus declared Madison as “30 square miles surrounded by reality.” In 2013, former Mayor Paul Soglin updated Dreyfus’s statement and proposed making the Madison city motto “77 square miles surrounded by reality.” This self deprecating resolution failed in a city council vote but the informal tag stuck and is used by bloggers, journalists, commentators, and politicians to describe Madison. Some have even added a new word into the statement that was not in the original; “77 square miles of fantasy surrounded by reality.” For the time being, it’s our town and we love living here.
Traveling, if one allows it, is a great way to meet new people and experience new cultures, foods, and folkways. One upside about our self imposed isolation during the pandemic is that it forces us to examine and get to know our local community better. These are the folks that are our neighbors and fellow citizens on this unknown journey. Through these pre-COVID photos, get know a few of the folks traveling with us on this precarious adventure.
Many of the following photos revolve around the Capitol Square, the University of Wisconsin campus, and the several blocks between the Capital and the University on State Street. It was during an intermission at a Concert on the Square and I was wandering around looking for inspiration when I met the fellow in the photo below. He was out walking his pet birds (parakeets, I believe) and enjoying the concert. As I chatted with him, the birds pecked at his goatee as if to keep it clean. There is another guy that I’ve seen around town that takes his pet boa out for a walk, I don’t have a photo as I usually skirt around him! This guy not so much.
The high and beautiful Rotunda in the Capitol building usually generates looks like the one of the couple below. I took this photo during one of my many visits to the Capitol building.
During the summer, the Capitol City Band schedules a Saturday morning concert on the steps of the Capitol in conjunction with the Dane County Farmers Market. It’s a great photo opportunity, I like the light on the tuba player and the reflection in the instrument itself.
This colorfully dressed woman was with a group on the Capitol Square promoting an event. To remove distractions, I zoomed in on her face with the bright colored dress, umbrella and rose colored glasses!
On a Saturday morning a few years ago while at the Farmers Market, I came across this scene. Hundreds of people lying on the street on their mats with their feet up in the air doing yoga. It was the day before an Ironman competition so people were prepping for their challenge the next day. Sometimes it’s serendipity finding this photo opps.
Every Sunday evening from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Mad-City Ski Team does a free water show on Lake Monona. One of the best places to watch is from the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center Rooftop. This photo uses the curved lines made by the boat to lead viewers through the scene.
Again, as luck would have it, I was in the right place at the right time on the right day. This fellow was washing the windows on one of the many buildings that surround the Capitol Square. He would swing himself from side to side to clean the whole window. Not something I would do but I was fascinated watching him work.
This photo was taken on the UW campus near the Library Mall. After a few photos, I got my free hug!
I like the window of this poster shop on State Street but I needed something to make the photo more interesting. I waited until this guy came along and when I thought he was in position, I snapped the photo. I had one chance and that was it.
This is another photo taken on State Street. She’s a friend of ours, if you look close see my Traveling Partner reflected in her sunglasses.
It was a beautiful, sunny day in mid March and the Friday before spring break at the University. Some of the students were whooping it up before heading home or if they were lucky, Florida. Not this guy, he was chilling to the music sitting on frozen Lake Mendota.
This photo was taken at Warner Park the afternoon before fireworks. There was a carnival set up in the parking lot. I saw the silhouette of this girl with her braided hair through the canvas on one of the kid activities.
These feet were made for walking. I like the sandals and the shadows of the walkers, you don’t always need the whole person to tell a story.
I could go on and on with photos and stories about people from Madison. Depending on how long the pandemic lasts, I might come back to this genre again. Hope you enjoyed the tour.
Until next week, happy virtual travels!