Dear Wisconsin, it's been almost 10 years since we last saw each other. How are ya?
I remember when we first met. I was 16 years old, it was 6 in the morning, I had no winter coat and it was the coldest day recorded in Wisconsin for 50 years.
I walked off the tiny plane with my new friends — businessmen off to work who I'd nervously chatted the ears off for the entire flight from Chicago. It was the coldest weather I'd ever experienced, the freezing air leaked into my whole body and I couldn't move a muscle.
The businessmen laughed at me on the tarmac as I hobbled towards the airport.
At that point, I didn't even want to meet you. I wanted to turn around, jump back on the plane and fly home. But I didn't know you yet.
You're beautiful. I lived for a year in a tiny town called Fountain City, population 1000. It wasn't what I was expecting from a small American town. Everything looked sort of European, which makes sense since most of the population is of Polish descent, with names like Dobrzynski and Pachowski.
I'd heard Americans were loud and brash but the Wisconsinites were quite the opposite. They spoke slowly and articulated everything carefully.
I loved asking for directions. Americans really know how to give directions, "Take a left, then at the next right, take a right. Go down about a mile then you're gonna see a big purple building on your left. That is not the building you're looking for ... " Oh, I miss my Wisconsin family.
Being from New Zealand, I've seen some pretty incredible scenery. We've got wild but in Wisconsin it's a different kind of wild. The weather dictates everything.
I loved the park in Winona (which is actually in Minnesota, just over the bridge from Fountain City). In winter there's ice fishing. In summer, weekends are spent cruising along the Mississippi River on someone's boat. I camped on different islands scattered around the river, toasted marshmallows and discovered s'mores.
Cheese in a can, drive-though banks, drive-through chemists, curly fries, root beer floats, football, cheerleaders, ice hockey, tornadoes, black ice, softball, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, biscuits n' gravy ... These are a few Wisconsin experiences I'll never forget.
Recipe for s'mores
First, toast your marshmallows on a stick over your campfire. Then, line two Graham crackers (or Super Wine bickies) with Hershey's chocolate. Place the dripping, melty puff of marshmallow heaven between the Graham crackers and smoosh together. Voila! A million calories and the best camp dessert on the planet!
Siobhan Marshall is starring in 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' at Q Theatre.