Wednesday, 28.11.2012

Madison

 I did not go straight to bed after arriving from the airport. The local time was only 6 p.m. So Daniel and I went for a quick dinner to a Mexican restaurant and back to his home. He has a gorgeous house right on the lakeshore – and his A-class catamaran on the water in the summer. Twenty metres from his living room! A real paradise… Yet we went down to the cellar. It was Tuesday, the day of the week when sailors meet at his house and tinker about with their boats. The workshop was very well equipped for working with wood and covered the whole floor plan under the house. I met Tim and Mike, who were building their new boats there and sharpening the runners. At ten (five in the morning our time) I left them and dropped into bed. It was a long party.

On Wednesday at noon Deb picked me up to show me a few iceboat shops in the neighbourhood. Before we left home, I met Jerry who was fixing something at Daniel’s home network. Immediately he told me proudly about his Czech great grandma. Once Deb and I arrived at the Litchfields, the first iceboat workshop, Gary Hess greeted me from afar in Czech. His grandfather from Kardašova Řečice had built the largest wet-coopery in all Wisconsin. He learned his cask-making skills – where else than in Pilsen? As is probably becoming clear to you as well, Madison, and actually the whole United States, could not exist without the Czechs.

We were served a very nice lunch at Litchfields. They usually host a fair number of friends at that time. Then he showed us his treasures: he owns several truly historic ice yachts from the 1930s. They were huge, weighing several hundred kilograms. Apart from these, he collects and sells vintage cars. His barn is full of them. He was at retirement age, but had enough work for several more lifetimes.

I met Jim Nordhaus in another workshop. He used to race especially on a Renegate. That is a large type of ice yacht. We hardly have the conditions for such yachts back at home as all our frozen lakes are too small. Jim would also take part in the weekend regatta. It would be the first time after a long break the he would sail a DN. He was just glowing with enthusiasm.
Deb showed me around Madison to give me some idea of it. Its Capitol was very stately, the second largest after that in Washington. When I saw it back at home in a photo, I assumed that Madison had a population of several million. That’s how huge the Capitol was. In reality, Madison has about 300 thousand people, of which 40 thousand are students at the local university. It is said that Madison has the highest concentration of the PhDs in the USA. Harry Whitehorse, Deb’s husband, was a Native American and an artist. Among others, he created a monument to the builders of the effigy mounds that can be found throughout the whole area. Many, however, had been destroyed. They are protected monuments nowadays. No one knows what purpose they used to serve. And the Indians who know would not tell.