On the Surface of the Midwest (Selections)

A Field Collection Project (Ann Arbor, MI to Minneapolis, MN)

Wall hangings and field letters in this series emerged from a 4 week, cross-country collection-trip that began in Ann Arbor, MI and ended in Minneapolis, MN. Throughout his travels Campagna made collections of all the circular throwaway materials he found. He also wrote field letters to colleagues that were inspired by the people and land he encountered on foot (while walking was his primary mode of travel during the journey, he also moved over Lake Michigan on a ferry boat and hitched short and longer rides in vehicles at various points). Campagna continued to gather street debris (mostly found paper) on hundreds of collection walks in Minneapolis between 2007 - 2010. Materials collected during these walks were also used to build the wall hangings. (Read selected field letters by pressing the button below images)

Highlighted Route of Collection Project (Ann Arbor, MI to Minneapolis, MN) 2009, Digital print on paper, 15¨ x 20¨

Highlighted Route of Collection Project (Ann Arbor, MI to Minneapolis, MN)

2009, Digital print on paper, 15¨ x 20¨

Neah Gebur (Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI) 2009; found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 102¨ x 78¨ x 1.5

Neah Gebur (Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI)

2009; found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 102¨ x 78¨ x 1.5

Field Letter to Tanya (EXCERPT)
Route: Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI
22. July 2007

Hastings, MI

...Just off the shoulder of the road I came across a chipping sparrow sitting silently in the grass, wings spread out strongly as if in flight. I came close to the bird, but it didn’t move. I took off my pack, and then on my knees I came even closer and could see the small bird had died, it had a dried look to it, as if it had been sitting in the sun for some time with its wings open.

Dave connected me with his retired Aunt Pat and Uncle Doug who live in the small, rural town of Leslie, MI where I passed an enjoyable evening with them. At breakfast they shared how, since retiring, they've been going to Florida for the winters. And they got to telling me about a particular kind of bird they saw at Everglades National Park this past winter. After hunting for fish in the waters the huge wings of these large birds get wet and the wetness makes their wings too heavy to fly. So the birds have to dry their wings out in the sun before flying again. On the Everglades tour Pat and Doug would see dozens of these birds filling up the branches of trees, wings spread wide, drying out their feathers in the sun. At the kitchen table this morning both Doug and Pat spread their arms out wide to show me what they looked like.

It was a bit of a coincidence then to come upon this small sparrow, and this same wingspread gesture, a few miles after leaving Pat and Doug. When I left the sparrow I walked for a bit with my arms opened myself. And then strangely, a few more miles down the road I stumbled upon a circular pink bottle cap with the image of a bird, wings opened (the corporate symbol of Smirnoff Vodka, I think)...

 
Neah Gebur (Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI) 2009; found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 102¨ x 78¨ x 1.5

Neah Gebur (Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI)

2009; found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 102¨ x 78¨ x 1.5

Field Letter to Tanya (EXCERPT)
Route: Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI
22. July 2007

Hastings, MI

...Just off the shoulder of the road I came across a chipping sparrow sitting silently in the grass, wings spread out strongly as if in flight. I came close to the bird, but it didn’t move. I took off my pack, and then on my knees I came even closer and could see the small bird had died, it had a dried look to it, as if it had been sitting in the sun for some time with its wings open.

Dave connected me with his retired Aunt Pat and Uncle Doug who live in the small, rural town of Leslie, MI where I passed an enjoyable evening with them. At breakfast they shared how, since retiring, they've been going to Florida for the winters. And they got to telling me about a particular kind of bird they saw at Everglades National Park this past winter. After hunting for fish in the waters the huge wings of these large birds get wet and the wetness makes their wings too heavy to fly. So the birds have to dry their wings out in the sun before flying again. On the Everglades tour Pat and Doug would see dozens of these birds filling up the branches of trees, wings spread wide, drying out their feathers in the sun. At the kitchen table this morning both Doug and Pat spread their arms out wide to show me what they looked like.

It was a bit of a coincidence then to come upon this small sparrow, and this same wingspread gesture, a few miles after leaving Pat and Doug. When I left the sparrow I walked for a bit with my arms opened myself. And then strangely, a few more miles down the road I stumbled upon a circular pink bottle cap with the image of a bird, wings opened (the corporate symbol of Smirnoff Vodka, I think)...

The Commons  (Ann Arbor, MI to Leslie, MI) 2008; found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks), 72” x 72” x 1”    

The Commons  (Ann Arbor, MI to Leslie, MI)

2008; found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks), 72” x 72” x 1”

 

 

The Commons (Ann Arbor, MI to Leslie, MI) 2008; found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks), 72” x 72” x 1”    

The Commons (Ann Arbor, MI to Leslie, MI)

2008; found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks), 72” x 72” x 1”

 

 

Spandrel (Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI) 2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks) 96¨ x 80¨ x 5¨

Spandrel (Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI)

2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks) 96¨ x 80¨ x 5¨

Field Letter to Dave (EXCERPT)
Route: Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI
22. July 2007

Hastings, MI

...a couple of days ago I stayed with your Uncle Doug and Aunt Pat. Doug picked me up a few miles outside of Leslie, MI in the middle of lush green corn country. He told me about his folks as we drove by the little farmhouse he grew up in. His parents, as you probably already know, were farmers in the area, "muck farmers," he called them. I asked what "muck" was/is, and he said, "it's the dark soils for growing onions, potatoes, that kind of stuff."

After a (much needed) hot shower dinner was served. Pat didn't have much of an appetite, as she just had surgery to have her gallbladder removed. The talk of gallbladders, of course, led into stories of gallstones and other gallbladder surgeries, none of which affected my appetite. Dinner was tasty corn on the cob, potatoes, fruit salad, and hard-boiled eggs (being I was a friend of yours they said they had prepared for a vegetarian).
After dinner Doug and I took a stroll through downtown Leslie (population is a little over 1900). Most of the old store buildings were empty, except for the post office, a bar, and a couple of barbershops, one of which Doug ran for a short time before he officially retired. Kind of a ghost town. He told me most people shop at the big box stores in Jackson or East Lansing these days.

The stroll also became a kind of docent tour of the area’s pests, as Doug was enthusiastic about showing me his mole traps. He had some set in his yard and over in his daughter's yard, who lives in the neighborhood. So I got to learn first hand what a mole "run" looks like. He was surprised I didn't already know about mole runs.

Later, their daughter came over and we all sat and watched the Detroit Tigers baseball game in the front room, and had butter pecan ice cream. Pat said, "that's all Doug ever gets. Go into any ice cream place, dozens of flavors, he always gets butter pecan." The Tigers ended up winning a close one that went late into the night...

 
DETAIL Spandrel (Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI) 2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks), 96¨ x 80¨ x 5¨

DETAIL Spandrel (Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI)

2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks), 96¨ x 80¨ x 5¨

Field Letter to Dave (EXCERPT)
Route: Leslie, MI to Hastings, MI
22. July 2007

Hastings, MI

...a couple of days ago I stayed with your Uncle Doug and Aunt Pat. Doug picked me up a few miles outside of Leslie, MI in the middle of lush green corn country. He told me about his folks as we drove by the little farmhouse he grew up in. His parents, as you probably already know, were farmers in the area, "muck farmers," he called them. I asked what "muck" was/is, and he said, "it's the dark soils for growing onions, potatoes, that kind of stuff."

After a (much needed) hot shower dinner was served. Pat didn't have much of an appetite, as she just had surgery to have her gallbladder removed. The talk of gallbladders, of course, led into stories of gallstones and other gallbladder surgeries, none of which affected my appetite. Dinner was tasty corn on the cob, potatoes, fruit salad, and hard-boiled eggs (being I was a friend of yours they said they had prepared for a vegetarian).

After dinner Doug and I took a stroll through downtown Leslie (population is a little over 1900). Most of the old store buildings were empty, except for the post office, a bar, and a couple of barbershops, one of which Doug ran for a short time before he officially retired. Kind of a ghost town. He told me most people shop at the big box stores in Jackson or East Lansing these days.

The stroll also became a kind of docent tour of the area’s pests, as Doug was enthusiastic about showing me his mole traps. He had some set in his yard and over in his daughter's yard, who lives in the neighborhood. So I got to learn first hand what a mole "run" looks like. He was surprised I didn't already know about mole runs.

Later, their daughter came over and we all sat and watched the Detroit Tigers baseball game in the front room, and had butter pecan ice cream. Pat said, "that's all Doug ever gets. Go into any ice cream place, dozens of flavors, he always gets butter pecan." The Tigers ended up winning a close one that went late into the night...

 
Crepuscule

Crepuscule

Field Letter to Steve (EXCERPT)
Route: Pentwater, MI to Ludington, MI
August 2, 2007

Ludington, MI

...Early this morning the shoreline of Lake Michigan was empty except for a young couple spooning under a quilt, fast asleep. Their little beach fire from the night before, chunks of blackened charcoal, was sending off little wisps of grey smoke. Seeing them sound asleep in the sand had me regretting that I had paid 18 bucks for a site back at the county park. If I’d had as much sense as these folks I would have set my things up on the beach for free.

There was one more person on the shore, a teenager who’d gotten up before everyone else at the campground, it seemed. He had apparently come down to be alone with the water. He was a good 40 yards off, his back to me, sitting in the sand looking out at the water. He was in about the same spot where I’d spoken with him briefly the night before. Last evening I had made my way down to the lake to watch the sun set, and bumped into him then. He said he was from Illinois and when I asked whereabouts, he said “Moline.” I knew it was a small town because an old co-worker of mine was from Moline. Then the teenager said he wasn’t really from Moline. “Moline’s all right, I’m actually from Davenport, it’s not so good, it’s rougher.” I didn’t know exactly what he meant. I asked, “lots of fights and stuff?” And he said “yah” and was silent. Then he told me how he was here with his father and step-mother and little brothers and sisters for the weekend. He seemed like an earnest, likeable guy with a lot on his mind. We didn’t have a lively conversation by any means, but the encounter with him felt significant, a kind of clarity of seeing one another that felt shared, at ease. Maybe it was just that there weren’t a lot of people on the beach and when two people have a conversation in an open, less dense setting, there is a kind of literal clarity and intimacy of seeing another face, another body, surrounded by so much air and sky.

Anyway, he was there again this morning, but I didn’t want to bother his quiet with the lake and I walked north up the shoreline till it was just me and the water and sky and sand and the few bits of extra clothing I brought with me to wash. I washed the clothes in the lake, rubbing sock against sock, pant leg against pant leg, squeezing and twisting out the water, then repeating. I laid the clothes to dry in the sand and floated in the cool water for a long while, eyes to the sky, till the sun started its rise over the shore...

 
DETAIL Crepuscule

DETAIL Crepuscule

Field Letter to Steve (EXCERPT)
Route: Pentwater, MI to Ludington, MI
August 2, 2007

Ludington, MI

...Early this morning the shoreline of Lake Michigan was empty except for a young couple spooning under a quilt, fast asleep. Their little beach fire from the night before, chunks of blackened charcoal, was sending off little wisps of grey smoke. Seeing them sound asleep in the sand had me regretting that I had paid 18 bucks for a site back at the county park. If I’d had as much sense as these folks I would have set my things up on the beach for free.

There was one more person on the shore, a teenager who’d gotten up before everyone else at the campground, it seemed. He had apparently come down to be alone with the water. He was a good 40 yards off, his back to me, sitting in the sand looking out at the water. He was in about the same spot where I’d spoken with him briefly the night before. Last evening I had made my way down to the lake to watch the sun set, and bumped into him then. He said he was from Illinois and when I asked whereabouts, he said “Moline.” I knew it was a small town because an old co-worker of mine was from Moline. Then the teenager said he wasn’t really from Moline. “Moline’s all right, I’m actually from Davenport, it’s not so good, it’s rougher.” I didn’t know exactly what he meant. I asked, “lots of fights and stuff?” And he said “yah” and was silent. Then he told me how he was here with his father and step-mother and little brothers and sisters for the weekend. He seemed like an earnest, likeable guy with a lot on his mind. We didn’t have a lively conversation by any means, but the encounter with him felt significant, a kind of clarity of seeing one another that felt shared, at ease. Maybe it was just that there weren’t a lot of people on the beach and when two people have a conversation in an open, less dense setting, there is a kind of literal clarity and intimacy of seeing another face, another body, surrounded by so much air and sky.

Anyway, he was there again this morning, but I didn’t want to bother his quiet with the lake and I walked north up the shoreline till it was just me and the water and sky and sand and the few bits of extra clothing I brought with me to wash. I washed the clothes in the lake, rubbing sock against sock, pant leg against pant leg, squeezing and twisting out the water, then repeating. I laid the clothes to dry in the sand and floated in the cool water for a long while, eyes to the sky, till the sun started its rise over the shore...

 
Jetty (Hastings, MI to Alto, MI) 2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 60¨ x 60¨ x 1¨    

Jetty (Hastings, MI to Alto, MI)

2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 60¨ x 60¨ x 1¨

 

 

 DETAIL Jetty (Hastings, MI to Alto, MI) 2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 60¨ x 60¨ x 1¨    

 DETAIL Jetty (Hastings, MI to Alto, MI)

2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 60¨ x 60¨ x 1¨

 

 

Moly  (Kennan, WI to Eau Claire, WI) 2010, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 120¨ x 90¨ x 4¨

Moly  (Kennan, WI to Eau Claire, WI)

2010, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 120¨ x 90¨ x 4¨

Field Letter to Dave [EXCERPT]
Route: Kennan, WI to Eau Claire, WI
8. August 2007

Eau Claire, WI

...I’ve spoken of some of the benefits of carrying an umbrella in previous letters. Mostly I’ve touted the umbrella’s unique ability to keep one cool on these hot days of walking and limiting exposure to the sun. But one of the points I left out is its value as an obscure object of discussion, or “conversation sparker,” when walking through a part of the country that has been in a drought. For example, a few days ago, on my way out of Gilman I stopped at the local grocery market to restock water and pick up fresh fruit. As I checked out, the cashier glanced at my umbrella and said, “let’s hope for our sake you have to use that umbrella.”

There was no one else in line so she shared how farmers in the area have been going out of business. How they usually cut their hay 3 times a season, but will only get 1 cut this year, and will have to buy hay from California, “and of course, they know we need it, so the price is going to be higher.”

A couple nights later, while I was making a simple soup over the campfire at Brunet Island State Park (near Cornell) a young park ranger doing his rounds came up and chatted with me about the walk. He began by asking me about the umbrella. It got us talking about the weather and again about farmers losing work due to the drought that northern Wisconsin has been in for the last four years. Extremely low water table. The park ranger shared that his father runs a tire repair shop in Medford (about 20 miles from Cornell, WI) and he said that his dad is seeing less and less farmers coming in, which is a majority of his business.

Times are tough in these small towns. For example the high schools in Cornell and nearby Holcombe are combining as a way to save money. This was the hot topic of conversation that I overheard while lunching at a little diner in Cornell. At one point some of the older patrons asked the teenage waitress what she thought of the high schools combining and she replied, “I don’t care, doesn’t effect me, I graduate this year.”

 
DETAIL Moly (Kennan, WI to Eau Claire, WI) 2010, found paper, Styrofoam,  and plastic (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 120¨ x 90¨ x 4¨

DETAIL Moly (Kennan, WI to Eau Claire, WI)

2010, found paper, Styrofoam,  and plastic (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 120¨ x 90¨ x 4¨

Field Letter to Dave [EXCERPT]
Route: Kennan, WI to Eau Claire, WI
8. August 2007

Eau Claire, WI

...I’ve spoken of some of the benefits of carrying an umbrella in previous letters. Mostly I’ve touted the umbrella’s unique ability to keep one cool on these hot days of walking and limiting exposure to the sun. But one of the points I left out is its value as an obscure object of discussion, or “conversation sparker,” when walking through a part of the country that has been in a drought. For example, a few days ago, on my way out of Gilman I stopped at the local grocery market to restock water and pick up fresh fruit. As I checked out, the cashier glanced at my umbrella and said, “let’s hope for our sake you have to use that umbrella.”

There was no one else in line so she shared how farmers in the area have been going out of business. How they usually cut their hay 3 times a season, but will only get 1 cut this year, and will have to buy hay from California, “and of course, they know we need it, so the price is going to be higher.”

A couple nights later, while I was making a simple soup over the campfire at Brunet Island State Park (near Cornell) a young park ranger doing his rounds came up and chatted with me about the walk. He began by asking me about the umbrella. It got us talking about the weather and again about farmers losing work due to the drought that northern Wisconsin has been in for the last four years. Extremely low water table. The park ranger shared that his father runs a tire repair shop in Medford (about 20 miles from Cornell, WI) and he said that his dad is seeing less and less farmers coming in, which is a majority of his business.

Times are tough in these small towns. For example the high schools in Cornell and nearby Holcombe are combining as a way to save money. This was the hot topic of conversation that I overheard while lunching at a little diner in Cornell. At one point some of the older patrons asked the teenage waitress what she thought of the high schools combining and she replied, “I don’t care, doesn’t effect me, I graduate this year.”

 
Moly (Kennan, WI to Eau Claire, WI) 2010, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 120¨ x 90¨ x 4¨

Moly (Kennan, WI to Eau Claire, WI)

2010, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 120¨ x 90¨ x 4¨

Field Letter to Dave [EXCERPT]
Route: Kennan, WI to Eau Claire, WI
8. August 2007

Eau Claire, WI

...I’ve spoken of some of the benefits of carrying an umbrella in previous letters. Mostly I’ve touted the umbrella’s unique ability to keep one cool on these hot days of walking and limiting exposure to the sun. But one of the points I left out is its value as an obscure object of discussion, or “conversation sparker,” when walking through a part of the country that has been in a drought. For example, a few days ago, on my way out of Gilman I stopped at the local grocery market to restock water and pick up fresh fruit. As I checked out, the cashier glanced at my umbrella and said, “let’s hope for our sake you have to use that umbrella.”

There was no one else in line so she shared how farmers in the area have been going out of business. How they usually cut their hay 3 times a season, but will only get 1 cut this year, and will have to buy hay from California, “and of course, they know we need it, so the price is going to be higher.”

A couple nights later, while I was making a simple soup over the campfire at Brunet Island State Park (near Cornell) a young park ranger doing his rounds came up and chatted with me about the walk. He began by asking me about the umbrella. It got us talking about the weather and again about farmers losing work due to the drought that northern Wisconsin has been in for the last four years. Extremely low water table. The park ranger shared that his father runs a tire repair shop in Medford (about 20 miles from Cornell, WI) and he said that his dad is seeing less and less farmers coming in, which is a majority of his business.

Times are tough in these small towns. For example the high schools in Cornell and nearby Holcombe are combining as a way to save money. This was the hot topic of conversation that I overheard while lunching at a little diner in Cornell. At one point some of the older patrons asked the teenage waitress what she thought of the high schools combining and she replied, “I don’t care, doesn’t effect me, I graduate this year.”

 
Pore (Eau Claire, WI to Willow St. Park, WI) 2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 96¨ x 96¨ x 1.5¨

Pore (Eau Claire, WI to Willow St. Park, WI)

2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 96¨ x 96¨ x 1.5¨

Field Letter to Dave (EXCERPT)
Route: Menomonie, WI to Willow River Park, WI
14. August 2007
Butterfly on my backpack

Willow River Park, WI

...I’m now 30 miles outside of Minneapolis and the field collection walk is nearly complete. In these last days of the walk I continue to carefully gather the circular pieces along my route. I also continue to encounter the generosity and kindness of interesting folks. Two evenings ago in rural Woodville, Wisconsin I stayed at the home of John and Mary. John makes his living as a potter and Mary will soon retire from working as an elementary school teacher in nearby Baldwin. I met them by chance weeks ago on the coast of Wisconsin, in Manitowoc. They were on a holiday in the area, and I had just come across Lake Michigan by ferry. I often stick out like a sore thumb walking thru towns with a large hiking pack. While sitting down at a deli in Manitowoc the couple had struck up a conversation with me, asking what I was up to. I remember feeling I had excitedly talked their ears off (walking for several weeks makes one a little high, at times). Fortunately I didn’t scare them off and they said when I got to the western side of Wisconsin to give them a call and they’d put me up. Indeed they did. I slept soundly through a rainstorm in a cozy cabin they built at the back of their lot, used for when their children come through town. John and Mary themselves live in a beautiful but modest log cabin that was built sometime in the 1800’s and which they have slowly restored over the past 30 years. Inside their home you can feel the care and craft that has been taken with the smallest construction details. Perhaps the most whimsical is the large bathroom sink, which John threw by hand from clay. Of the surrounding farm properties, their lot is the only one filled with trees, all of which they have planted since the 1970’s, after they bought the place.

Soon as I’m done writing I'll jump on a trail and head northwest, leaving Willow River park (where I camped last night), and head towards the town of Stillwater, MN. It has been good walking lately. There were power lines along the railroad tracks, and I suspect utility repairmen drive trucks alongside the rails, taking care of the cables and poles. Over time truck tires have pressed the gravel stones into the earth, making flat walking terrain for miles. The railroad goes along Highway 12 which has mostly been my route from Menomonie to Knapp to Woodville to Baldwin to Roberts to Willow River State Park. Many of the small rocks I've walked on are the color of frozen T-Bone steak -- a purply-red with intricate white lines running through them, like marbly striations of fat. The best part has been the grasshoppers which jump and scatter by the dozens, like welders sparks, as I make my path...

 
DETAIL Pore (Eau Claire, WI to Willow St. Park, WI) 2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 96¨ x 96¨ x 1.5¨

DETAIL Pore (Eau Claire, WI to Willow St. Park, WI)

2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 96¨ x 96¨ x 1.5¨

Field Letter to Dave (EXCERPT)
Route: Menomonie, WI to Willow River Park, WI
14. August 2007
Butterfly on my backpack

Willow River Park, WI

...I’m now 30 miles outside of Minneapolis and the field collection walk is nearly complete. In these last days of the walk I continue to carefully gather the circular pieces along my route. I also continue to encounter the generosity and kindness of interesting folks. Two evenings ago in rural Woodville, Wisconsin I stayed at the home of John and Mary. John makes his living as a potter and Mary will soon retire from working as an elementary school teacher in nearby Baldwin. I met them by chance weeks ago on the coast of Wisconsin, in Manitowoc. They were on a holiday in the area, and I had just come across Lake Michigan by ferry. I often stick out like a sore thumb walking thru towns with a large hiking pack. While sitting down at a deli in Manitowoc the couple had struck up a conversation with me, asking what I was up to. I remember feeling I had excitedly talked their ears off (walking for several weeks makes one a little high, at times). Fortunately I didn’t scare them off and they said when I got to the western side of Wisconsin to give them a call and they’d put me up. Indeed they did. I slept soundly through a rainstorm in a cozy cabin they built at the back of their lot, used for when their children come through town. John and Mary themselves live in a beautiful but modest log cabin that was built sometime in the 1800’s and which they have slowly restored over the past 30 years. Inside their home you can feel the care and craft that has been taken with the smallest construction details. Perhaps the most whimsical is the large bathroom sink, which John threw by hand from clay. Of the surrounding farm properties, their lot is the only one filled with trees, all of which they have planted since the 1970’s, after they bought the place.

Soon as I’m done writing I'll jump on a trail and head northwest, leaving Willow River park (where I camped last night), and head towards the town of Stillwater, MN. It has been good walking lately. There were power lines along the railroad tracks, and I suspect utility repairmen drive trucks alongside the rails, taking care of the cables and poles. Over time truck tires have pressed the gravel stones into the earth, making flat walking terrain for miles. The railroad goes along Highway 12 which has mostly been my route from Menomonie to Knapp to Woodville to Baldwin to Roberts to Willow River State Park. Many of the small rocks I've walked on are the color of frozen T-Bone steak -- a purply-red with intricate white lines running through them, like marbly striations of fat. The best part has been the grasshoppers which jump and scatter by the dozens, like welders sparks, as I make my path...

 
 DETAIL Pore (Eau Claire, WI to Willow St. Park, WI) 2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 96¨ x 96¨ x 1.5¨

 DETAIL Pore (Eau Claire, WI to Willow St. Park, WI)

2009, found paper, Styrofoam, and plastic  (throwaway materials gathered on collection-walks); 96¨ x 96¨ x 1.5¨

Field Letter to Dave (EXCERPT)
Route: Menomonie, WI to Willow River Park, WI
14. August 2007
Butterfly on my backpack

Willow River Park, WI

...I’m now 30 miles outside of Minneapolis and the field collection walk is nearly complete. In these last days of the walk I continue to carefully gather the circular pieces along my route. I also continue to encounter the generosity and kindness of interesting folks. Two evenings ago in rural Woodville, Wisconsin I stayed at the home of John and Mary. John makes his living as a potter and Mary will soon retire from working as an elementary school teacher in nearby Baldwin. I met them by chance weeks ago on the coast of Wisconsin, in Manitowoc. They were on a holiday in the area, and I had just come across Lake Michigan by ferry. I often stick out like a sore thumb walking thru towns with a large hiking pack. While sitting down at a deli in Manitowoc the couple had struck up a conversation with me, asking what I was up to. I remember feeling I had excitedly talked their ears off (walking for several weeks makes one a little high, at times). Fortunately I didn’t scare them off and they said when I got to the western side of Wisconsin to give them a call and they’d put me up. Indeed they did. I slept soundly through a rainstorm in a cozy cabin they built at the back of their lot, used for when their children come through town. John and Mary themselves live in a beautiful but modest log cabin that was built sometime in the 1800’s and which they have slowly restored over the past 30 years. Inside their home you can feel the care and craft that has been taken with the smallest construction details. Perhaps the most whimsical is the large bathroom sink, which John threw by hand from clay. Of the surrounding farm properties, their lot is the only one filled with trees, all of which they have planted since the 1970’s, after they bought the place.

Soon as I’m done writing I'll jump on a trail and head northwest, leaving Willow River park (where I camped last night), and head towards the town of Stillwater, MN. It has been good walking lately. There were power lines along the railroad tracks, and I suspect utility repairmen drive trucks alongside the rails, taking care of the cables and poles. Over time truck tires have pressed the gravel stones into the earth, making flat walking terrain for miles. The railroad goes along Highway 12 which has mostly been my route from Menomonie to Knapp to Woodville to Baldwin to Roberts to Willow River State Park. Many of the small rocks I've walked on are the color of frozen T-Bone steak -- a purply-red with intricate white lines running through them, like marbly striations of fat. The best part has been the grasshoppers which jump and scatter by the dozens, like welders sparks, as I make my path...