When Kossacks jorogo and Sand Hill Crane said they could gather some volunteers together for an Overpass Light Brigade visit, I jokingly suggested that if we were to drive the two hours from Milwaukee to Portage, they'd have to supply a picnic. "No problem," jorogo wrote us. "I've got a good bridge scoped out, we'll get the people together, and I'll even bring some of my famous smoked chicken and pita!"
We got all that, a beautiful velvet blue-black night, a full moon so ripe and orange upon rising that you could burst it with a pin, and a police escort off the bridge at the point we were getting ready to leave anyway. (Read jorogo's diary here.)
I had worked hard for a few afternoons to make some new letters to be able to spell VOTE WALKER OUT. We were excited to add to our lexicon, and even more excited to meet with our OLB- Fox Valley splinter group, for the inaugural showing of a beautiful new Blue Fist. The setting was a lonely little wide bridge off of a county highway that spans the busy I-39. This is John Muir country, and near the Crane Foundation. As we approached our destination, we marveled at the rolling countryside and the patchwork of forest and field, farm and woodland. We saw sandhill cranes, massive flocks of geese, all kinds of raptors and the largest flock of wild turkeys I have every seen.
Usually we go out in pedestrian overpasses, or at least bridges with fencing. This one was a bit scary - just a knee wall of cement, so jorogo had thoughtfully rigged some sawhorses and PVC to serve as a safety barrier and a place to rest the signs. People began to arrive, the delicious food was presented, and a wonderful tailgate party ensued. We must have looked quite strange to the few locals that drove by, thinking to themselves, "Now what are all of these people doing here? Why have a picnic here of all places?"
Cars kept coming, people kept arriving, parking all the way down the feeder road.The food was fantastic, there were introductions and stories about activism, outrages over Walker's quiet signing that day of a repeal to a hard-won law to ensure women receive equal pay for similar work, a new law allowing abstinence-only drivel in our public schools instead of a rigorous information-based sex education program based on real biology, and a recent law opening a hunting season on wolves in Northern Wisconsin. What more can we say, over and over, than "VOTE WALKER OUT!"
The sky darkened in the most beautiful modulation of blues, light at the horizon and deepening towards zenith. Standing by the highway with my tripod and camera I almost felt I could smell the color of the sky. It was crisp, clear, earthy and green. Stars began to sparkle in the darkening light, trucks roared by to my left, and to my right an orange moon backlit the budding trees. The Blue Fist sat at the end of our phrase, an emphatic exclamation mark of solidarity and state pride.
In the past, it has been hard to communicate from the highway to the bridge. The trucks are so loud it is often impossible to hear a cell phone. Badscience had found some old Motorola walkie-talkies. This worked like a charm! I was able to communicate some needs in letter spacing and keep in touch with what was going on up top. After more than an hour, we were beginning to stage our exit. At that very point, the two squad cars of Marquette County arrived, blue and red lights rotating like acid strobes at a rave.
It would be hard to get indignant at such polite and friendly young policemen. I guess the county has a newly Walker appointed DA who had received some complaints. We were told that there were potential liability issues. Our action was a distraction infraction. We offered the guys some food, which they couldn't accept, and marched off the bridge, after a few last good "photo ops with the cops."
As we helped jorogo and Sand Hill Crane pack up, our crew of thirty people disbanded. We bade our goodnights and drove the long way back to Milwaukee, full moon rising higher into the sky, minds full of stories, stomachs full of food, camera full of pictures and hearts full of friends.
My rhetorical problem is this: How can I keep suggesting that "it can't get any better than this?" when each bridge action is unparalleled, unsurpassable and positively perfect?