I am sitting in the restaurant at the Winneshiek Hotel in Decorah, Iowa, with a view of Water Street, as the monsoonal cascade from a thunderstorm turns the street into a literal watery street. Bolts of lightning strike the ground beyond the end of Washington Street. It is a glorious show.
I was up well before dawn for the drive to the Pittsburgh airport. Venus hung bright and high in the east. Overhead I heard the calls of migrating birds, fellow nocturnal travelers. I left the crowded hills and fog shrouded valleys of western Pennsylvania, boarded a plane, circled Eau Claire in a holding pattern for twenty minutes, then landed in the wide open, rolling prairie of suburban Minnesota.
The first three stops on the seek button were MPR affiliates, and Garrison Keillor accompanied my southbound drive through rain so thick you sometimes could not see the road. Then it cleared to reveal shorn cornfields and Victorian era farmhouses and copses of imported spruce trees.
Having never seen Walleye on a menu before I ordered that, and discovered that it belongs to that category of tasteless freshwater white fish that properly should be breaded and fried in some trans fats to acquire any character, but I had senselessly ordered it grilled. I am well outside the coastal gourmet zone (despite the preponderance of public radio stations) and ought to have recalibrated my expectations accordingly, but one can always have hope. And have it dashed. The town has potential though--there's a food co-op on the main (Water) street where I bought my roasted almonds, and on opposite corners are campaign offices for Hillary and Obama, and none for any Republican candidates. I think I'm going to have a fun time at this college.