I hope my readers had a good weekend. Mine started very auspiciously, when I met Cecil Markovitch, Mr. N’Awlins, and a friend of his at a Madison Bach Musicians performance of Handel’s Messiah. There were only two people on a part, except for the “Hallelujah Chorus” and “Worthy Is the Lamb,” when the Madison Boys Choir joined them. There were countertenors instead of altos, and all the players performed on period-style instruments, at A 415 instead of A 440. It was the best performance I ever heard – I even enjoyed the solos! – and afterwards all we could do was cry and clap for like ten minutes. I thought it was interesting that the performers were mostly young and were black, white, and Asian, but the audience for the most part was older and white. Why is there not more diversity in the audience? Music this wonderful should be everyone’s cultural heritage. You don’t have to be a big German guy (like Handel) to appreciate it.
Saturday Travalon and I took Rodney and went on another road trip to visit a pub from the book. (Yes, we’re still doing that pilgrimage.) It was a chilly day, but very sunny and not too windy. We started with a visit to Mirror Lake, a beautiful state park, where we took a hike down to the beach. We followed Highway 12 and saw a sign near Mauston for another state park, Buckhorn, so we went to check that one out too. We crossed a gorgeous causeway to get there, and the park itself is on the shores of Castle Rock Lake. (We never did see Castle Rock, whatever that might be.) We stumbled across a Marian shrine by Necedah and stopped by, since I completely forgot that shrine is condemned by the Church. We even bought a rosary there – oops! Didn’t mean to support them. They don’t seem to be doing all that well financially, since they are trying to build a church there and it has been under construction for many years. They can’t even afford decent bathrooms there. Apparently a woman named Marian Van Hoof claimed she saw an apparition of the Blessed Virgin there, and the Church determined that it was not true, but she wouldn’t desist from her claims. We only saw a couple of other people there, and they were very old. I wonder what will happen to the shrine when this generation of supporters dies? The false visionary has been dead since the mid-80’s.
Then we followed Highways 80 and 54 through state forests to Black River Falls and went to Sand Creek Brewery, which we had stopped by last summer on a Sunday, when it was closed. On Saturdays it is open, and it was quite lively, with lots of people drinking the beer and hard lemonade that is brewed there. We stopped by their lovely church, St. Joseph’s, thinking we could catch a 5:00 Mass, but their Mass had been at 4:00 so everyone was just leaving. We went in and prayed briefly and then got back on Highway 12. Our next destination was Mill Bluff State Park, where we hiked on the Camel Bluff trail. We continued to follow Highway 12 and explored the little town of Camp Douglas, under the shadow of the bluffs in that area. They also have a cute little church, St. James, and Mass had just finished when we got there so we got to go into that one too. I will post pictures, probably tomorrow. Just when I was thinking what a charming little town it was, we passed behind a tavern and saw a guy relieving himself in the parking lot, and then I remembered why I could never live in a small town. We had a late dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Mauston called Cinco de Mayo, which I highly recommend if you happen to find yourself in the area. Travalon’s enchiladas del mar were particularly delicious.
Yesterday was dreary and rainy, and we did not have nearly as exciting a day. We went to brunch with the choir, and it was a huge group this time – eleven people! We also went to a “game night” (more like game afternoon this time), and in the evening my band had practice. Hardingfele had brought some minor-key Russian folk songs that we worked on, so that was a welcome change from our overabundance of major-key Scandinavian music. We have some gigs coming up this summer, but I may not be able to make any of them. Ah well, c’est la vie.