Growing up in northeast Wisconsin most of us just wanted to get out of Green Bay. We wanted to go somewhere better, anywhere, somewhere with more stuff to do. It was as if we were just doing our time until we could get out. (Ironically, many of those same people have come back to raise families). Now, with a little perspective, when people say there’s nothing to do in Green Bay or say it’s boring, I sigh and think, “Green Bay’s not boring; you’re just doing it wrong.”
On Saturday morning P and I found ourselves downtown. We were planning to buzz downtown, run an errand, and head back out to get more stuff done closer to home. But it was bright and sunny, not yet humid; it was a gorgeous morning and things started jumping out at us as we stood outside the library on Pine Street.
It was too early for the library, but not too early to check out what was growing in the edible garden. We made plans to come back when it was open, turned around and ran into a friend coming from the Farmer’s Market. Imagining what veggie bounty was filling out her canvas bags made me ask my son, “Want to check out the Farmer’s Market?” He was in and we were off.
Downtown Green Bay can be strangely quiet before 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday. Walking from the Central Library to Washington Street almost felt like we were on the set of a movie. I half expected to hear the director yell, “Cut!”
We started noticing details we thought most people might hike right by without noticing. Some sort of rusted mechanical contraption reminded P of an enormous pumpkin. Ripped and shredded bed sheets half covered several of the upper windows of the YMCA. “It’s haunted, you know,” P reminded me. As we continued on our walk, he retold the story we’d heard on a ghost tour a few years back.
An interesting set of light fixtures mounted above our heads, bracketed the entrance to the Architect’s Building.
And an eclectic window display for an artist’s shop caught our eye.
Naturally we stumbled across a Packers Heritage Trail stop. P rested next to a statue of a Packers supporter and newspaperman as he watched the construction happening on Washington Street.
This beaut was hard at work just outside the Farmer’s Market. It was as interesting for its noise and movement as it was for operating on a Saturday morning.
Then it was into the crush of the Farmer’s Market with its hundreds of people, dozens of colors, and countless smells.
So many intriguing vegetables, meats, flowers, and people. People sat in the open front of a bar drinking mimosas and Bloody Marys as shoppers passed by. Hundreds of blue reusable BayCare bags dangled on the arms of almost all the shoppers. Hopeful bees trailed those blue bags full of goodies. We ran into friends, chatted, filled our own blue bag with goodies and walked back the way we came, resigned to finishing our errands.
All the things we saw on our walk, any of those things, could be said to be boring. It would be easy to write them off as errands. But with open eyes and a change of view, no place- not Green Bay, not the smallest town in Wisconsin- nowhere is boring. As a teen I might have felt like I was doing time as a teen, but I have learned over the years that if you’re paying attention, there’s always a field trip happening. And the best ones don’t have price tags.