Monday, August 11, 2008

Culture Clash

by Libby Hellmann

I went to a lake in Wisconsin this weekend: Lake Nagawicka, to be exact. It’s in Hartland, which is near Delafield, which is not far from Milwaukee. It was delightful, and everything I hoped it would be. Long boat rides on the docile water, lazy hours spent reading, a Sunday morning trip into “town” to the coffee shop, even a quick afternoon rainstorm, Mother Nature proving again who’s really in charge.

But the most memorable part was Ken and Kent’s garden. Those of you who are familiar with Delafield may know it. Nestled on a corner near the boat dock, the garden these two men have created is splendid. A plaque says it’s a Habitat garden, which contains its own natural ecosystem, requires few chemical pesticides, and attracts indigenous wildlife. It’s an eye-stopping patch of beauty. The Phlox, hydrangeas, salvia are over four feet tall; there are tiny waterfalls, fishponds, and other species of flowers I didn’t know. This isn’t it (sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me), but it looks similar.

The best part, though, was Ken – he’s seventy-five and walks with a cane, but he’s so enthusiastic about his garden he reminds you of a proud teenager. He invited us in, showed us the new fishpond, the mushroom compost he and Kent make from scratch, and told us to come back anytime between spring and fall. Kent, who’s a little younger and wore a flowing white shirt that must be a relic from the Sixties, was busy taking other passers-by on a tour. Their friendliness and genuine love for the land was obvious.

Slow Fade out. Fade in Six hours later.

I’m home and on my way to Ravinia for a Sheryl Crow concert. Ravinia is an open-air concert venue in the middle of Chicago’s North Shore. It was a beautiful evening, and the concert was sold out. My friends and I were lucky to get lawn tickets, which means you don’t see anything, but you can hear just fine.

We arrived about 45 minutes before the concert, and there was not a patch of lawn to be had. We walked around twice, and finally shoehorned ourselves into a tiny space behind a group party. I remember when going to Ravinia meant a blanket, a bottle of wine, cheese and crackers. No more. People bring tables, chairs, coolers, stemware, hors d’oeuvres to die for, entrees just as fancy, and some even have their own music. Huh? The woman dressed casually – but it’s a long way between Wisconsin casual and North Shore chic. The men talked about their golf game – even during the concert. The lines for drinks, food, and the rest rooms wound half-way around the park, and there were enough people who thought they were entitled to budge in front of others that I was harboring truly evil thoughts.

Sure, Sheryl Crow was terrific, and I love her down-home earthiness, but seeing her in that venue was almost an oxymoron. I kept thinking about Ken and Kent’s garden and wishing I could grow hydrangeas like them.

How about you? How do you deal with culture clash?


Michael Dymmoch said...

I haven't been to Ravinia since my son was six (He's 32 now.)

I remember my dad going there to see Benny Goodman and coming home funimg. People talked all through the show.

I personally don't get it. I can hear people run off at the mouth for free almost anywhere. I'm tempted to go to an opera at the Lyric just to see the boors thrown out.

Maryann Mercer said...

The last time I was at Ravinia was to see Peter Paul and Mary, and the attendees ran the gamut from hot dogs and popcorn to linen and candles in silver holders. And people talked during the show, but quietly...and of course we all sang along with the songs we knew.It was more of a picnic than a concert, which might be the problem...people talk and play around at picnics.
Last Sunday my sister and I went to the local community theater production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". No talking, just applause and standing ovations.Your post made me wonder how that might have played out at Ravinia. In September another local company is doing Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at Hessel Park (outside).I wonder just how that will compare as well.
PS. Wisconsin is one of my favorite places to go. Now I have another reason. Thanks, Libby