Over Christmas, we briefly visited the town of Norwalk, Wisconsin where my grandparents live.
I shared a few pictures of their house a few weeks back, but while we were there I also wanted to take some emblematic pictures of small town Wisconsin.
My sister Heidi and I, plus our wonderful husbands, tramped on outside. It was cold, but we were determined to spend some time together, photograph stuff, and so forth. Heidi and I took pictures of each other against the backdrop of a worn old door.
(Side note: when I don’t look so great in a picture, my solution is to make it extra bright. It makes all the wrinkles and splotches disappear like magic! Badabing badaboom! It’s a terrible habit. I’ll try to break it . . . later.)
Heidi, on the other hand, needs no such help. She looks great au naturel.
We also forced my husband to pose.
We photographed the old Norwalk Creamery in its abandoned beauty. We walked to a park where we used to play as kids. Mike stuck his head in the jaw of a plastic lion. But after about half an hour, our faces were starting to freeze off, so we turned around. And then, I saw it.
The blue truck. I snapped a picture.
In my mind I could see a fabulously artistic shot of this truck, framed and glorious, on our wall, representing all of my Wisconsin roots with its gritty, practical, worn down, hard-working, mud-splattered vibes. But I wanted a slightly different angle. I started walking towards the river bed. The ground looked like packed dirt and it was certainly cold enough for it to be hard, possibly frozen. I skipped ahead, excited about the shot I was about to compose. But.
One of my shoes sunk into the ground a little. Instead of stopping in my tracks and considering the wisest course of action, I reacted by trying to prance forward fast, thinking that if I was quick and light on my feet, I could make it to a firmer spot.
Before I knew what was happening, one shoe was left behind in the mud, plunging my now naked foot into inches of very, very cold, very soft and cake-y mud. Unbalanced, I thrust forward with my other foot, with the exact same result.
Ack! I cried as my toes smooshed into the ground. My first thought was for my camera. Nothing could happen to my beautiful Nikon! My husband ventured forth a few cautious steps to take the camera out of my hands, and then I focused on retrieving my shoes.
Now that the camera was safely away from the mud pit and the shoes were no longer buried, my second thought was for my blog.
I was in the midst of a situation that could definitely turn into a blog post–if I had images to go along with it. “Take pictures!” I cried. “This must be documented!”
Finally, I made it back to the safety of the cement sidewalk.
Phew! Terra firma at last.
My feet were completely caked. The mud had been soft enough to let me sink but was hard enough to cling to my flesh like cement. My brother-in-law Mike, trained as he is in weird situations because of his army skills, instructed me to wipe my feet in the grass as much as possible. Frost bite must be avoided at all costs. By now, as you can imagine, I was starting to feel less than enthusiastic about my situation. To wit:
-There was no getting the mud off my feet without a bucket of warm water
-I sure as heck wasn’t going to put my muddy feet inside my shoes and ruin a perfectly awesome pair of black flats
-We were still very far away from my grandparents’ house
-It was freezing cold outside
-My feet were hurting, dangit–numb and throbbing in pain all at once
I tried walking, but after about a minute there was so much pain I couldn’t do it anymore. So my husband decided to carry me despite my protests.
However, I am heavy. I am taller than he is. And it was a long way back. So that solution wasn’t sustainable.
Mike piped in and suggested an alternate way of carrying me–and my husband promptly took heed and swung me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
Much more enjoyable for all involved.
As we walked through town, a small dog started to pursue us, barking and running and looking a little crazy in the eyes. I felt quite defenseless with my head dangling down–what if the little dog made a big leap and bit off my forehead or something?–so I scanned the area for the owner.
And there I saw her–an older woman, grim and serious, watching our odd procession from her door.
What must she have thought we were doing? The guy with the muddy-footed girl slung over his shoulder. The other girl and guy, both equipped with large cameras, snapping pictures of our progress right and left. Some kind of bizarre photo shoot?
I did what I thought would be natural in this odd situation–gave her my best possible grin (considering I was upside-down this may have looked like a grimace) and waved. Something like this.
She quickly turned tail and shut the door.
And all of this–the mud, the pain, the frightening of this small-town woman–it was all for the sake of one great shot of a blue truck . . . that I never did get in the end.
For those of you curious about the resolution:
-Back at the house, Dad bathed my feet in a bucket of warm water and removed all the mud. He thought the whole thing was hilarious. Feeling was restored to my numb extremities. Aren’t parents the best?
-No frost bite occurred.
-Mama Kitty gave me a cuddly pair of polka-dotted socks to baby my feet with. I wore them for about 5 days straight. No joke. In fact, here they are on the train ride back to Chicago.
-My shoes, with a little TLC in the bathtub with a rag, are now fully operational.
So! Now it’s your turn. Have you ever suffered for your art?