An American Journal: Day 11 (Wisconsin – > Springfield, Illinois)

I was becomingly increasingly used to good breakfasts as we sat down to pancakes cooked over the fire with raspberries generously added. The weather forecast didn’t bring any good news for the day or the rest of the weekend and so the decision was made over my second plate of pancakes to make our way back to Springfield later in the afternoon.

After breakfast Mari was set on the idea of checking out the creek which lies on the other end of the fields across the road from the cabin. To get there we had to traverse a barbwire fence, a field which is in part underwater and a herd of cows who looked very disgruntled at our intrusion. So out we squelched and hopped, over the fence, through the bog and cautiously round the ear-flapping cows. We followed the creek round the outside of the fields with Bruno bounding along in front of us. The ground is covered in soft grass with patches of thistle, and flowering white and yellow fleabane. You just have to be careful not to tread on fresh cow pats. We trudged back over the field towards the road, where a small tributary to the creek leads up to a fresh water spring where Bill and Wendy often fill up jugs to take back to the cabin.

Lunch was campfire quesadillas topped up with sour cream and avocado while we started gathering up the campsite. You could begin to feel the air gather moisture in preparation for an afternoon downpour and so we hastened to pull down the giant blue tarp that had been our roof, gathered our bags and blankets and lumbered the last of our food stuff to the trunk of the car. With Bruno in the car, the luggage strapped on top and the clouds thickening overhead we set out on our seven hour drive.

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The drive back was long and uneventful, and the minutes slowly ticked by as landscape moved from rural to urban. Our first stop was at a gas station a couple of hours in to our drive and I began to notice how often I attached narratives to common places here in the States. At the gas station, I felt a moment of unease as I attached a story of one of the many robberies I’d seen happen in movies. Passing by run down farms I could imagine the unfolding of a chainsaw massacre and at a diner we later stopped at I thought of Mr Pink arguing for why he won’t tip. There’s probably no other country that offers such a perspective and is one that adds colour and imagination to even the most ordinary of experiences.

The sun had long set by the time we entered the city of Springfield. Street lights and the odd Halloween decoration led us in through to Mari’s family home. It was with weary legs and eyes that we filed out of the car and I put another day of my American experience behind me.

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