Yesterday Jim suggested a “lunch date,” and rather than going to a nearby restaurant he proposed driving to Spring Green.  We thought we’d eat at the Spring Green Cafe, which overlooks the Wisconsin River.  Across the road at the top of a broad sloping meadow is Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s former home and architectural school, which is still in operation.

But we weren’t going to sight-see.  We just wanted to take a small excursion in the middle of a quiet weekday, which, like too many days over the past weeks, was rainy and overcast and made the house feel more claustrophobic than it should the day after the summer solstice.

With all the rain we’ve had the countryside is pillowed with deep green foliage, and the corn is already two feet high.  We noticed a few things we hadn’t seen the last time we drove this way:  the new information center for the portion of the Ice Age Trail that picks up in Cross Plains, a cafe near the tiny town of Arena called “A Better Buzz” that features fair trade coffee, a new, upscale commercial space in Mazomanie most of whose windows were plastered with large “For Lease” signs.

Suddenly I felt as if we were on one of the many road trips we’ve already taken in the four years we’ve been together, just in miniature.  We were gliding past landscapes less dramatic, certainly, than the road to the Chiricahua Monument in Arizona,  the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, or the weird baked lava fields of Idaho’s Craters of the Moon.  But there are always things to see from the car, while inside your cozy automotive space you can exchange observations with your companion of the road, indulge in non sequiturs or say nothing at all.   In the silence above the muted sounds of the engine and tires, your thoughts empty out and the scenery streams in.

As it turned out, the parking lot at the Spring Green Cafe was nearly full, and the staff situation inside seemed so chaotic that, given the already late hour, we retreated and had a not-so-scenic lunch at Culver’s.  On the way back home we stopped at a large farmers’ stand and bought tiny local strawberries and loganberry jam from nearby Lodi.  The sky overhead was a constantly changing stage-set of giant slate storm clouds and brief punch-throughs of blue.  Close to home the rain started falling again, and it was good to sit down in an arm chair at the end of another road trip.