Taste and memory

Another Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, with the usual summery temperatures and unpredictable precipitation. This year the political climate added a new dimension to the change in seasons, and what used to be an assumed visit or two to Bratfest turned into choosing between any of three protest events in Madison.

I was out of town on Saturday, so Wurst Times and The People's Bratfest were out. But I'd staked myself to attending Alt-Bratfest during my totally-unexpected radio appearance, and even though the weather conspired against an outdoor festival, Kristine and I made the trip.

It was completely and wholly worth it. For $15, we shared two ample brats (Underground Kitchen and Merchant, though others were available) and a brat-seasoned pulled pork sandwich (Alchemy). A few cups of flavored tea, and we were won over. (My hope is that Joey Dunscombe and his fellow organizers stick with this one for next year; the one-and-done tease that was the Pork-Off was hard enough to get over.) It wasn't a strident protest, but in the midst of its success we were reminded of why we were there, and what we opposed in the giant effort across town at Willow Island.

In keeping with the fundamental purpose of the holiday, we stopped at Madison's Memorial Mile and made a donation. The Mile is an extremely effective installation designed to deliver the full impact of the losses we have sustained in our continued involvement in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm proud of Madison for displaying it, and for respecting it.

On Monday, we invited a dear friend who had to endure a beer-less cookout to our comfy patio for some brats and burgers. It was the best possible way to embrace the weather, and our modest level of prosperity, and the time we've been given to appreciate the good that we have in this country in spite of--and occasionally, because of--the bad.

As we gear up for recall elections and a long hot summer, the holiday weekend we just finished was the perfect prologue to kick off a reinvigoration of the palate, the mind, and the heart.