a love letter to wisconsin

wisconsin capitol in autumn, Lady Wisconsin, moving Forward.

I don’t know how else to put this. It’s not you. It’s me. It’s really, really me. I’ve never met a state like you, and I’ve been to almost all of them. You are truly beautiful, in not only your appearance, but your people, your ways, your Beer. You’ve taught me so much in these 33 years we’ve been together. You’ve taught me how to appreciate cold, snowy winters and good IPA’s. You’ve taught me how to love the Brewers and be a true fan through the good times and the bad. Mostly bad. Like really, really bad. You’ve taught me to look forward to the smell of manure in the breeze, silos on the horizon and the color red in your barns, the Badgers and burning autumn leaves. You’ve taught me everything is better with cheese. And that if you can eat it, you can fry it. Even candy.

I will never forget the hundreds of miles of countryside we’ve bicycled together, the rolling farmlands washing all my worries away. Or the endless weekend road trips you inspired me to take. And the rainbow of colors your little peninsula proudly radiates in October. Oh, and the Beer. I don’t care what anyone else says. Not only do you make great Beer, you come up with creative excuses for your people to frequently consume it, and that my friend, is a gift. A gift, I tell you!

Remember when I made you my Valentine? That 14th day of February I committed myself to you forever. We will literally never part. And while the pain of your outline on my ribcage made me want to punch you in the face, in the end, it just made our relationship stronger. When the artist asked me if there was a special reason, I just blinked at him. Like you need an explanation.

Thank you for your intense thunderstorms, aromatic lilac bushes, clear lakes, quiet forests, and your beautiful bovines. I am super into those cows. Thank you for your football fans and the drunk college students who basically put me through school via their way-too-easily-influenced-by-boobs cash money tips. Thank you for Milwaukee. Thank you for La Crosse. Thank you for Wausau, Minoqua, Mercer, Florence, Superior, Hayward, Door County, Eau Claire, Chetek, Rice Lake, Cadott, Rhinelander, Conover, Mineral Point, and every small town I have ever joined you for a Beer. You are so beautiful, you don’t even know it. Have you ever wondered why everyone from the southern border state owns vacation homes on your lake shores? Why those FIBs drive up eight hours every weekend to escape into your luscious forest and lake-filled arms? Because you’re the best.

Just like Minnesota has their Nice, you have Wisconsin Love. On Wednesday, when a Tornado bartender I had never met overheard it was my last Tornado Late Night meal of delicious scallops and my beloved only-Tornado-can-make-it-this-good wedge salad, he swiped his own credit card with his employee discount, signed the receipt and put it in front of me. I love you because those are the kind of people who live within your ridiculously awesomely shaped border.

That old schoolyard taunt, “if you love it so much why don’t you marry it?” could never work on me. Because I would. I would marry you and have millions of your babies, and watch as they slowly invaded Illinois and Ohio and Indiana, three of the worst states ever. Eventually the whole country would be one giant Kowalski-Wisconsin, not so commonly referred to as Heaven.

Other people, non-Wisconsinites, they just don’t understand. When they ask me where I am from, they say it’s no wonder I am leaving you, what with all the cold, the snow, the “midwesterness,” the people…all of the things I adore about you. Every stereotype out there about people from Wisconsin (for a fairly accurate verbal tour, Sh*t Wisconsinites Say pretty much sums it up): we fry everything, put cheese on everything, we’re drunk all of the time, our phenomenal accent, the cows, it’s true! It’s all true! And it’s spectacular. And for 33 years, I couldn’t have painted a prettier picture. 

But it’s time. I’ve known this for a while, and I think you feel it too.

Just know this: it doesn’t matter where my mail gets delivered. You will always be my home.

P.S. Please don’t get mad at me if I eventually move to Minnesota. My sole purpose is to spread Wisconsin love, I swear.

wisconsin farm
capitol building, madison, wisconsin
wisconsin summer sunrise
up north in october, conover, wisconsin
wisconsin art
great taste of the midwest, the best wisconsin beer festival, with some made in wisconsin gals
wisconsin summer tent
those beautiful wisconsin barns
my bicycle next to a wisconsin tree, next to a wisconsin lake
on wisconsin
wisconsin farmland
the terrace…madison, wisconsin
one of the 8 million festivals we gather for the sole purpose of having a good time with our friend, beer.

126 thoughts on “a love letter to wisconsin

  1. Tosh, I love this! My grandparents lived in Wisconsin and my Granddad sold cheese (of course) so I spent most of my summers growing up there. You captured it beautifully. Congrats of the FP – you totally nailed it! ~Terri


    1. Ah, summer in Wisconsin. You can’t beat it! And thank you so much!! And I hope you still make it back to Wisconsin every now and again 🙂


  2. I love this post. I grew up just north of Green Bay but moved away a long time ago and have become rooted elsewhere. Spent summers camping in Door County. Boating, biking, apples, cherries, fishing, Potowatomi, Algoma, Kewaunee, Fish Creek, Peninsula State Park. And the weather. I miss Wisconsin so much. I miss the weather. Intense, real weather that makes you stop and notice the beauty and the power of nature. I could go on and on, but you already did and I’m glad I found it.


    1. I’m glad you found it too! And thank you for the kind words. It’s always nice to bump into a neighbor in the enormous impersonal world of The Internet.


  3. What a creative post! Very nicely written. I grew up in the Chicago area, but can relate to many of things you write about in this blog post! I now live in St. Louis, but my memories of Wisconsin are still so vivid. My absolute favorite pastimes about the state include Spotted Cow (YUM), Alpine Valley (skiing AND amazing concerts), Camping (Devil’s Lake), Lake Fontana and the gorgeous Autumn leaves! It’s a beautiful state.


    1. Ooooo New Glarus…Moon Man is my personal favorite, but Spotted Cow is also a treasure. I hope you were in Door Country for the autumn leaves…simply amazing. Thanks for reading 🙂


  4. I’m a former Wisconsinite, left to do grad. work and met my husband. My heart will always be there. Just wrote my memoir You Won’t Be Coming Back about growing up in Chippewa Co. I go back every chance I get. This was a wonderful article! Thank you so much for creating it for us. I love Wisconsin, too.


    1. You come from a great part of the state! I’ll have to read your piece. Wisconsin is just one of those places that grabs people and makes them want to grab back. And when they do, they hold on tight, for life. Cheers!


  5. Very awesome! Have frequented The Log Cabin in Conover, WI. We have a cabin 3 miles away on CR S on Blueberry Lake (by Stormy Lake). Some of the best authentic “tavern” experiences in the world exist in northern WI. Thanks for this!


  6. Born and raised in WI and now living away, you have crafted a beautiful view. WI stays in your heart. Thanks for a great piece!
    All the best to you!


  7. Beautiful pictures! As an Illinois resident, I have to say that not all of Illinois is bad…namely, Chicago and the immediate suburbs haha! Lots of cool things there. However, during drives down south and west of the state – very boring! I’m actually in Wisconsin for the weekend now, and even though winter has barely loosened its grip in the Midwest, I do enjoy driving through Wisconsin more because the sights and the greenery is a lot more to take in than flat land and cornfields.


    1. Oh I know Illinois isn’t ALL bad. But I wouldn’t be a true Wisconsinite if I didn’t give ya’ll a hard time. Happy you’re enjoying the Badger state!


  8. Wonderful photos. The great thing about wonderful memories (here, of Wisconsin), you can always remember them and smile again. There is a small badger which will always remain in your heart, don’t ya know!!! 😉


    1. I’ve come to love the winters even more than summers, but it helps if you pick up a winter sport. Otherwise winters can get a bit…long.


  9. Well-written. I have been a huge proponent of Wisconsin since attending a summer wedding in Milwaukee. Spectacular weather, beer, and scenery. Not to mention, the atmosphere at the Brewers game was as lively as I’ve seen.


  10. It took me moving away from Wisconsin to realize how much I like it. There’s still a lot of stuff I dislike about it too, but, overall it’s a lot nicer than I used to give it credit for. And cheese is truly a blessing.


  11. I know how you feel. Although sadly i’ve never made it state side I can appreciate the love of a location. I moved to Yorkshire from Kent nearly 4 years ago and its just beautiful. The people are friendly and the rolling hills just make it so stunning in all seasons.

    Id love to tour the US one time. MAybe do one of those campervan holidays where you go to see each state and their “Worlds Biggest….” landmark thing lol


  12. I moved away for awhile and then came back to Wisconsin. My husband laughs at me as I hate the cold. I hate winter. Yet, I love the people, the sights, the smells. I knew I was in trouble when I walked out of the UW-School of Veterinary Medicine building and smelled the cows on campus in the wind and thought, “Wow, that smells really good. I feel so comforted right now.” On days when life just gets you down, there is always something here to build you back up. Thank you for sharing!


    1. You know those ice-breakers where you go around the room and say what your favorite movie is, who’s your favorite superhero, what’s your favorite food, etc.? Back in college I had one about favorite smell, and mine was ‘cows.’


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