12:25:20 pm on
Tuesday 23 Jul 2024

Jennifer Flaten

Heading down our street after a brisk walk, the dog and I encounter a billowing cloud of smoke. Ah, there is nothing like finishing a healthy albeit bracing bit of exercise by sucking in a lungful of smoke.

My eyes are watering and I am coughing like I have a five pack a day habit, but we make it through the smoke. If I didn't know better I would think a house is on fire.

Luckily, it is just a house-sized pile of leaves. It is by no means a roaring fire, more like a slow smolder. Still it is coating the neighborhood in thick gray smoke.

It is no wonder that at a recent DNR sponsored presentation on mulching and other garden arts our neighborhood appeared in a red zone. The red zone is never a good zone.

This particular red zone highlighted all the areas that refuse to ditch the burn. You can't imagine how uncomfortable it is to know that your neighborhood alone is responsible for raising the pollution levels of an entire city.

I really don't understand peoples attachment to burning leaves, is it some latent fire-buggy-ness? I have neither the time nor the patience, okay really I don't have the patience I have plenty of time, to burn the leaves.

Who wants to spend all day monitoring a soggy heap of stinky leaves and poking it with a stick? I mean there are some things (okay people) I would be happy to poke with a stick, but not a pile of leaves.

So how did we get rid of the leaves this year? We mulched the leaves (I feel so delightfully green).

Okay caught me again, we just simply ran over the leaves repeatedly with the mower and called it mulching.

A few minutes of zoom, zoom and bada-bing, bada-boom we have shredded leaves. They are free to soak into the ground (or blow over to the neighbors).

Anyway, the now smoked dog and I make our way through the waves of noxious fumes to our newspaper box.

We grab the paper and retreat into the house. Which, even though hermetically sealed for the upcoming cold weather, still smells like leaves burning.

As the dog assumes the proper sleeping position, on the sofa, I settle down to read the paper.

About half way through the news of the day, I encounter not one but two head-slappers.

First, apparently up until this very moment the State of Wisconsin didn't require children to attend kindergarten.

Huh, well that is interesting. The state feels free to meddle in every other aspect of our lives I can't believe they missed this opportunity.

Truthfully, I can't imagine why a parent would delay sending their precious darlings off to school.

I know I certainly didn't, I signed them up as soon I could. Better, the school have them all day then me.

Besides, I don't see how a child could skip kindergarten and all its fun instructional stuff and succeed in first grade. I mean look at the book "All I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten" pretty much sums it up right?

Second head-slapper and this one is a doozy-brace yourselves...Wisconsin allows children to accompany their parents into a bar (no that isn't the upsetting part) and at that point if the parent allows it the child can be served alcohol (yeah that's the disturbing part).

No, wonder all the other states laugh and point at us. We are the state that sees no problem in kids skipping kindergarten to go sit at the bar and sip whiskey with dad, no doubt while cheering the "pack" on.

Yes, I know in European countries children encounter alcohol at an early age. Problem is we aren't European we are Wisconsinites. We don't know when to say when.

We aren't sipping a nice wine with dinner; we are downing a keg of Schlitz while watching the game.

We are also the only state where drunk driving isn't a felony. We have repeat, repeat, repeat offenders. Some drivers are pulled over on their 15th or 16th (or god help me higher) offense.

We just can't be trusted with alcohol, maybe they should teach alcohol responsibility in kindergarten.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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