After a few difficult weeks filled with rejection, loneliness and depression I packed a bag and traveled to Viroqua, Wis. for a few days of rejuvenation and quality time with family. For anyone unfamiliar with Viroqua, it’s a little town located in a part of Wisconsin called the Driftless region. This area was left untouched by the last ice age; no glaciers mutilated the land here, and it possesses a sort of mystical quality.
Since I was little I’ve felt Viroqua was a special place, and apparently I’m not the only one. As my uncle would say in his thick Filipino accent: “All da ippies come heer.”
I think to whom he was referring to are the environmentalists and organic farmers, but the area is also filled to the brim with artists, writers and thinkers. Tom Dury’s 2006 novel, The Driftless Area as well as Lawrence Santoro’s 2007 novel, Just North of Nowhere are both set in the Driftless region. And nationally acclaimed author David Rhodes based his 2008 book Driftless on the fictional town of Words, Wisconsin in the Driftless Area (my book of choice for my time away).
One myth I’ve heard is that the town itself is built on top of a cave where the universe was born. In all honesty, this is unlikely, but I swear everyone I meet has at least heard of Viroqua, been to Viroqua, or was BORN in Viroqua (if so, my uncle would have been your doc). I joke that it really is the center of the universe, so maybe that makes it true—for me.
So, at the center of the universe, I decompressed. I napped outside in the sun, read a book, and spent time with my family and several new found friends. My mother and I walked through the park, and even participated in a group psychic reading (Ryan Braun, if you’re out there, apparently we are meant to be together).
It was good to be AWAY from the stress of being jobless and just live in the moment. Viroqua is great for being in the present and for healing emotional wounds, and I highly recommend a visit if you are in need of just that.
There is great shopping at the Viroqua public market, where you can find handmade soap, antiques, used books and great food at Café Oz. Every Saturday morning in the summer there is a local farmers market filled with beautiful fresh produce, organically grown food, Amish crafts and natural honey. I purchased a vibrant purple eggplant (which I used to make an olive and eggplant pizza later that night) and some delicious sweet honey.
In the evenings there is often a concert, poetry reading or guest author hosted at Greenman Music. Check the calendar of events here: calendar.
In the fall there is the apple festival in Gays Mills, AND the Driftless region is the largest wine region in the United States (take that Napa).
My point: this region of our state is worth visiting, and I left there feeling, as I always do, better.