The Prune: A kiss is given before a farewell (or fare not so well)

by Todd Sharp

Kissing goodbye.

I have a friend who is traveling the world viewing its natural wonders. Her first-hand knowledge and belief in the science predicting global warming is profound enough that she is visiting the most exposed countries — kissing goodbye to the physical land and, in some cases, the cultures of those areas.

From Greenland to Iceland, Alaska to Bangladesh, Maine to the Everglades, we are losing coastlines and she is kayaking along the shore taking in the natural splendor and learning as much as she can.

She feels a need to see everything before it’s gone, or before she’s gone.

With a strong determination to experience the world in her lifetime, it’s the only chance she’ll have — any of us have for that matter.

I don’t have the financial freedom or take time to travel the world to see all these places but I do have the opportunity to kiss away some of the practices and long-held false truths of my life.

Kissing them goodbye.

The collection of things — stuff — I don’t need. The idea I needed to hide behind a moustache.


Sedentary life …

I can’t sit still. Years ago I had to discard the thought of sitting for long periods of time.

Arthritis makes moving essential. If I sit too long I get stiff, uncomfortable, and lazy.

Sure it feels good to sit down to rest after a long day of working in the garden, riding a bike or at my job.

Yet, for me, it’s the kiss of death to sit all day. There must be some natural lubricating fluid created when we move, the viscosity gets thicker and builds up when we are active.

Last week I took off on my bicycle to visit the thriving towns and villages along the Wisconsin River.

I rode from Eagle River to Prairie du Chien. On the final night of the ride I decided take a rest from camping and stayed comfortably indoors at a historic hotel.

Sue from Eskimo Comfort had mentioned the Usonian Inn in Spring Green. It is a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired and styled hotel built between 1948 and ’52. The wood-paneled walls, diffused lit windows, huge overhangs and elongated prairie style were charming and practical within the landscape.

Luckily it was located close to the route and had a vacant room.

The intense pleasure of resting my body on a real bed and laying my head on a pillow after a six-day, 492-mile bike ride/camping trip was fantastic.

The gratification of spending a quiet night indoors was joyful; like the taste of the first grilled burger of the summer, a bite of buttered, salted sweet corn cooked 10 minutes after picking, feeling the soft, short fuzz of a horse’s nose, sitting on a park swing, watching fireflies, talking late into the night with a great friend.

I fell asleep quickly and woke inspired — this is a great place to visit and rest, well designed and beautiful.

I thought about how revolutionary Wright had to be to abruptly change design and influence the world of building, though I’m sure he had a huge number of detractors and non-believers.

He looked at the world in a new way. He needed to cast aside the past and prune out the old standard boxes of past architects and have the courage, foresight, and self-directed determination to make sure his vision of the world was built and seen.

His style has prevailed and delighted our senses for decades, influencing thousands of architects.

There’s obviously a great need to understand, participate in, and learn from past traditions, while continuing to have the fortitude and ability to act on what is obvious, right, practical and challenging.

The style of this hotel and my friend’s ambition reminded me that I need to learn and participate first hand in the past while looking to the future to make the world a better, more beautiful place before I have to kiss it goodbye.

Editor’s note: When not smooching away his stuff, Todd Sharp is an advertising sales prune for the Green Laker, Express and The Ripon Commonwealth Press.