I just got back from a late weekend visiting Tony’s mom in Cedarburg, WI. It was a wonderful nice time. If I recall the sign correctly I think that the population of the town was about 11,000. I have never spent more than a few hours in a place that small, maybe a night. Being in Cedarburg for two nights and three days was an experience.
Minneapolis is the smallest place I have ever lived, other than the Sarah Lawrence campus and that was nestled in lovely Yonkers, not your typical small town. I had spent four hours in Cedarburg before but the few days trip was something I was really looking forward to. I wanted to get a glimpse of small town life. I know there are many towns out there with far less than 11,000 people but the size was definitely enough to give me a small town feel.
We drove up with Tony’s friend Ryan. We stopped at the Mars Cheese Castle for a quick drink and Ryan got some jam at the other cheese place down the road. It was actually my second visit to the cheese castle. Surprisingly, I didn’t buy any cheese. I just didn’t feel like it and I was being cheap. The Morel & Leak Jack Cheese at the place next door looked relatively delicious though. I kind of wish I had purchased some. Oh well. We also stopped on the South Side of Milwaukee to eat a little food with Tony and Ryan’s childhood friend Greg. He was a good guy.
Cedarburg is about 20 minutes outside Milwaukee (with no traffic) and we met up with Tony’s mom at a wonderful little spot called Ernie’s Wine Bar. Apparently this place was the “Triple L Tap” when Tony was growing up and he and Ryan planned to go there as soon as they turned 21. It was not the triple L tap they remembered. Other than Tony’s mom there was one man and the owner/bartender in the establishment. I think there had been some other people in but they left as soon as we walked in the door. The place was quaint epitomized. It was absolutely beautiful as far as decoration went but had a quiet rustic charm. The walls were a nice muted green, kind of the color of my parent’s dining room (this information helps very few people) and had a wonderful dark wood bar and mirror. The outside patio was incredibly comfortable. The other patron was thinking about leaving to catch Desperate Housewives but instead they just put it on the bar TV.
Cedarburg calmed me. I couldn’t explain it at that point in the trip but there was something about the atmosphere that really made me feel comfortable. The next day I went to my very first real and true Piggly Wiggly. In all honesty I can’t remember seeing those anywhere other than in the movies. Then again, I just had a sinking suspicion that there may have been one in Tarrytown. Maybe I am just dreaming though. The funny think about Piggly Wiggly was that I was expecting it to be this hilarious back woods place with off brands and a limited selection of food. Workers were supposed to be wearing red and white striped shirts and aprons. It wasn’t like that. I was very impressed with their selection. They had a nice vegetarian meats case and we got some burgers to tide us over. We tried desperately to find some Americone Dream but it was sold out and I could just see the sticker under one for Mint Chocolate Chip or something like that. The employees had navy shirts. It was a very nice looking grocery. We also went to the other grocery store in town; the more upscale one, to try to find Americone Dream. They too were sold out but hadn’t put anything over the price sticker for the flavor. Tony has yet to taste any. We may have to write to Stephen.
Before leaving Tony and I were standing in the yard of his mother’s house and I was looking at the surrounding town. There was something about the place that I just couldn’t put my finger on. I wasn’t sure why I liked it so much or what made me feel so good. Eventually I noticed it was the air. The actual air of the town was something I had never experienced. It had a smell, a crispness if you will, that I had never really encountered before. It was so incredibly fresh. Then I looked around and noticed how clean everything was. The grass (even with dandelions) around the neighborhood was lush and green. I realized I hadn’t seen a really dirty car while I was there, everyone kept things washed. The houses all looked to be painted well and were in good repair. Even the sidewalks themselves were clean. They were literally a few shades lighter than the concrete I am used to looking at. The sky was a blue I had only seen on the rarest occasions. A car past with audible music and I realized it was the first time I had heard noise other than birds chirping, the rain, and cars driving by the whole time I had been there. It was like living in a different world.
Unfortunately, do to weather and time I didn’t have much of a chance to walk around town. I was pretty confined to the small section that the house was in. I am looking forward to another visit when we can really take in the town in full. I want to see the area where Tony grew up and go playing in the woods of his childhood. He suggested maybe TPing a house because “that’s what you do in Cedarburg,” although I am pretty sure he was joking.
It isn’t a place I would want to live at this point in my life. The owner of Ernie’s mentioned to us that it isn’t a place someone under 40 would want to live. He is probably right. There just isn’t enough excitement around. However, as a place to just be and a place where you can easily relax it was absolutely wonderful. I look forward to being able to seem more of this quaint little town.