I started noticing the changes just north of Rosendale in Fond du Lac County. The trees became much more colorful, and the Ron Johnson signs became much larger and appeared far more frequently. Scott Walker signs were in evidence everywhere. As I’d told my Chicago-born-and-raised wife, I’m from a different part of the world that’s NOT like Madison; I’m from the Fox Valley.
Saturday morning, after having determined that my broken-ribbed wife was able to navigate on her own for several hours, that she had good pain meds on board, and that the dogs were prepared to protect, defend, and nurse her, I grabbed a bunch of my favorite CD's and headed up to Hortonville in her Dodge Magnum R/T HEMI, leaving my foreign-made SUV in the garage. It’s fun to drive her powerful machine every so often, and her car hasn’t seen much use since she busted that rib on the 17th of last month in a fall leaving the Dave Matthews Band concert at Wrigley Field with her sister and brother. She can’t drive with a load of morphine and oxycodone on board.
Mom had put out a call to all her children that Saturday was “fall action day”, with a long list of tasks she needed help with – moving furniture out of her bedroom, which is being re-painted and re-carpeted tomorrow; putting the summer outside stuff away for the winter; cutting down the peonies; that sort of stuff. All too often m y siblings who still live in the Fox Valley manage these things without my help, but I knew it was time for me to pitch in.
Election season is when you see the obvious visual clues that the politics of the Fox Valley are not at all like the politics of Madison and environs. The yard signs are a dead giveaway that Republicans rule the roost up there. Just north of Rosendale on HiWay 26 I saw the first gigantic Ron Johnson billboard, and as I hit HiWay 41 just south of Oshkosh, the Johnson and Walker signs and billboards proliferated.
There was a HUGE billboard on HiWay 41 near Neenah proclaiming “Fiengold + Kagen = PORKSPENDERS!” with an illustration of a pig under the huge letters. Steve Kagen is the allergy-clinic king and DEMOCRAT who holds – tenuously – the Congressional seat in that neck of the woods. He’s in as much trouble as Feingold this time around. Can you imagine seeing a “Feingold + Baldwin = PORKSPENDERS!” billboard in Dane County?
As I exited HiWay 41 at HiWay 15 in Appleton for the quick jog over to Hortonville, I counted ONE political sign for a Democratic candidate (Barrett) along the hiway through Greenville to Hortonville, a lonely little petunia among the huge forest of yard signs and billboards for Republican candidates.
It was a quick trip up and back, with just time enough to get through mom’s “to-do” list and spend some quality time visiting with my family members. But it was enough to reinforce my suspicion that it’s more than just the color of the leaves that will be changing this fall.