My daughter was on her way out the back door when she paused to say, “You said you wanted to see a play at Spring Green while on vacation, so I bought tickets for us. We’re going to see Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.”
Genuinely pleased, I said, “Oh good! What night are we going?”
Nonchalantly, Tammie said, “The first day of our vacation. We’ll have to leave the cottage right after we arrive to get there on time.”
Hating to be rushed, especially while on vacation, I asked, “Wasn’t there another night that we could go to that play?”
Shaking her head, my daughter said, “No. The only day I could get tickets during our vacation week, was that night. Don’t worry. It’ll all work out.”
Our original plan to take a pilgrimage to Ireland had fallen through, so Tammie and I were going to rent a cottage in the beautiful bluff and coulee-dotted area of southwestern Wisconsin. One week before we left for our vacation, I let the cottage manager know that we planned to drive to Spring Green for a play on the day we’d arrive, too. Little did I know doing this would be so helpful to us.
On vacation day one, we headed south of La Crosse on highway 35. The bluffs along the Mississippi were tall and grand. Alongside them, long and wide, the meandering river sparkled in the afternoon light. Turning inland towards the cottage, I mused, “There’s nothing but bluffs and coulees between the cottage and Spring Green. The route there might be circuitous.”
Tammie replied, “I know. We’re only a mile off highway 35 and have already gone around several curves.”
“Not to mention up and down multiple hills.” I added. After one last curve and driving up one more hill, we saw the little gray cottage we’d rented half way up the side of a bluff. Behind it and to one side were long rows of grapevines trained onto fences. Stopping at the house below it on the slope, we met Donna, the manager of the property.
My first impressions of the cottage that warm, sticky August afternoon was of peaceful, relaxing colors and wonderful, cool air-conditioning. Tammie and I admired the love seat and chair near the entrance and the big TV screen on the wall. We don’t usually watch television, but do like shows about cooking, gardening and renovating houses. Donna said, “One of the channels we get here is HGTV.”
There was a light in Tammie’s eyes as she translated for me, “Home and garden television!”
Behind the sitting area was the kitchen, fully stocked with plates, pans and utensils. A table with chairs was only a step or two away from the refrigerator and stove. In the bathroom next to the shower was a stacked washer and dryer. A queen bed piled high with decorative pillows dominated the bedroom. All windows were treated with venetian blinds. Since the building was built into the side of the bluff, there were no windows in the kitchen or bathroom, so several skylights illuminated these areas.
At the end of her tour, Donna said, “I’ve written directions for your drive to Spring Green. My daughter told me that a bridge is out in one of the towns you have to pass though. Don’t take the detour. Follow my daughter’s directions. It’ll save you a long drive and time.”
After Donna left, we carried in our luggage. We hurriedly put things away and then it was time to leave for the play. From out on the bluff among the grapevines, we heard the call of sandhill cranes.
The instructions for getting around the missing bridge saved us much time and frustration. We arrived at the American Players Theatre in good time. We sat down and relaxed over a picnic lunch. Hundreds of cicadas serenaded us from the tree tops.
Sitting outdoors in the night air felt eminently right for watching Shakespeare’s play. His comical farce was appreciated by the big audience. Bats swooped across stage, but were ignored by the actors. Loving it all, I finally relaxed. The rush of the day was over.
The roads we followed to go back were dark and mist-shrouded. They wound around, over and between the bluffs. Finally we found the right driveway. As I opened the door and crossed the threshold, I felt an overwhelming rush of gratitude. I rejoiced, “This pretty little cottage is my home-away-from-home for an entire week!”