Working on the Isthmus

In October, I started a new job in downtown Madison. Wisconsin’s capital is located on an isthmus, which means I can walk a few blocks one direction and stand beside Lake Monona or a few blocks in the other direction to overlook Lake Mendota. Truly, five minutes either way and I’m at the waterside—it’s another perk of an already great job!

Being December in Wisconsin, it’s cold and blustery, definitely not kayaking season. But I continue to think about kayaking as I drive into downtown on Gorham Street each morning, slowing down for a glimpse of Lake Mendota on my right side, surveying kayaking conditions. Just the sight of the lake makes me feel calm as well as grateful to live and work in such a picturesque place.

One recent day as I drove by Lake Mendota on my morning commute, the water was calm, and I thought if I didn’t have to work, it would be a nice day to go kayaking—perhaps wishful thinking since despite the placid lake, it was no more than 35 degrees outside. More often than not lately, the water of Lake Mendota has been rough and ominous, waves crashing against the shore as winter approaches. The lake still offers a breathtaking view, but one that makes me burrow deeper into my heated car seat.

My fellow kayaking enthusiast Jenny works a few blocks away and we often meet for lunchtime walks. She’s helping me learn my way around downtown beyond the Capitol Square and State Street. When she’s busy, I continue to venture out on my own and am automatically drawn to one of the lakes where I pause momentarily to breathe and watch the water. It’s a terrific break that puts me in a happy mood as I head back to my office. If one day I find a bench or spot to sit down, I may forgo the exercise to simply sit and dream along the lakeside.

For now, I admire the lakes from shore. I take a deep breath, stretch my arms overhead and lift my face to the sky, giving thanks for my new job in this beautiful city between two lakes—and counting down the days until it’s kayaking season again.

2 thoughts on “Working on the Isthmus

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  1. So happy for you Shari! I had lunch on the Wisconsin river the other day and was mesmerized by the large sections of ice flowing briskly with the current. So enticing to think of kayaking, but… will have to wait until it’s warmer!


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