Voices of Rural Wisconsin Part One: The Call of the Land
Artists and writers have sought from time immemorial to capture the essence of this spiritual connection that binds people and the land. Robert Gard, a former president of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, was an inspiration to all those who would write about rural life. In their 1978 history of Wisconsin farm and family, My Land, My Home, My Wisconsin: The Epic Story of the Wisconsin Farm and Farm Family from Settlement Days to the Present, Robert and Maryo Gard strive to annunciate what so many who've lived a Wisconsin life have felt: "The spirit seems to be there still, though the pioneer cabins are all gone now. And there is something else ... a sense of largeness, as though the land has taken on a mysterious dimension that is bigger than life." Rural residents live close to the land and are directly connected to it. In the end, they are in some measure judged by how well they treat the land. It is a relationship based on practical realities, for sure, but also one that is incomplete if it fails on a spiritual level. In Part One of the Voices of Rural Wisconsin project, we travel down the quiet roads of our state to investigate why so many heed the call of the land.