I wish I could be writing here about how fabulous Chautauqua was this year. Or about the Wild Ponies at Red Bicycle Hall, the first in the RiverRoots concert series. Or the Madison Area Arts Alliance showcase of local artists that took place at Little Golden Fox. Maybe the music at Thomas Family Winery or the wine-tasting at Rembrandt’s.
But I came down with a cold Friday night, so all I can tell you about it is the purse I bought down the street at Old Courthouse Days on my short walk from home to the Dollar General to purchase ibuprofen. It’s a testament to how full and busy downtown Madison was this weekend that I could participate to some extent without having to walk more than a block.
My experience of all the fun this weekend was filtered through our open windows as we listened to folks on their way to various events. There’s a kind of pleasure there, sitting on the couch and watching the people go by with their shopping bags and their festival food.
After a good sleep last night, I’m feeling better this morning. Well enough to teach my classes and spend the afternoon at the coffee shop. Well enough to enjoy the day after Chautauqua, which is it’s own kind of delight. As a friend said today, “It’s good to have our town back.”
Which is, of course, not to say we don’t enjoy sharing our town with all the visitors. Of course we do. You can’t help but swell with pride a little when you watch visitors walking up and down our streets, pointing at the architectural details on our buildings and houses. Or admiring our fall decorations. Pausing along the river to enjoy the slow glide of a barge down the river. We’re happy to overhear conversations in which folks imagine what it might be like to live here and know that we’re lucky enough to know the answer. We’re pleased to share everything that’s wonderful about Madison with out-of-towners.
But perhaps you’ll understand that’s it’s also nice to have the place all to yourself again when the company goes back home. Walking to the coffee shop this afternoon, I could smile at the signs that were still there—“Bathroom for paying customers only.” I didn’t have to fight through crowds or stand in line. There was no worry about whether my parking space would disappear while I was at work. We could all put on our comfy clothes so to speak. It’s just us again for now, until the next event comes along.
It’s hard to appreciate the stillness without the chaos that comes before. Life is like that. The noise helps you to appreciate the quiet that comes after.