While I looked around for my possibilities

Thirty miles south of Madison on I-90. A rust-red barn, squat and firm on the horizon. A stainless steel silo glinting, implacable, in the crisp day air. The first snow came and went early this morning, leaving an achingly bright Wisconsin afternoon. The sky is sharp blue, cracking blue, with frosted jet contrails looping gently across it, like garlands iced onto a wedding cake. The ground is a mottled olive-brown with sparkling gilt edges. I have the specific sense that, were I to stop the car and wander into one of the ploughed-under cornfields and plunge my hands into the earth, the ground itself would yield up stories upon stories of work and pain and love, tales of the men and women who haunt this delicate, hand-hewn place.

No time for Midwestern romance today. Driving at ninety miles per hour, the leafless trees are upraised hands, waving hello and goodbye, both in one instant.

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