The 400 Block is packed with people during the first Concert on the Square of the summer season last month in downtown Wausau.
There are burgers and brats on the grill, sizzling over the charcoal and sending the aroma wafting through the neighborhood. Somebody is out cutting the lawn. A family is riding bikes through the neighborhood, and a couple are chatting on an evening walk.
It's summer in north central Wisconsin, a time when the region comes alive with outdoor activities and events. With yesterday's Independence Day holiday, many are making it a four-day weekend. Time with family and friends is always time well spent. And on this holiday weekend, it's worth taking the time to appreciate not just the natural beauty of where we live, but also the way the community comes out and comes together in this season.
? Head out to any public space - The 400 Block or the Isle of Ferns Park in Wausau; Machmueller Park in Weston or any of the hundreds of local neighborhood spots where people gather with their families and friends - and you can find people of all ages and races spending time in the sun, playing with their kids, enjoying the season.
? On Rib Mountain, hikers and bikers and runners climb the peak, enjoying the trails and the walking paths. At Nine Mile Recreation Area, mountain bikers are taking to the trails. People hike and swim and barbecue at the Dells of Eau Claire Park.
? On the river, boaters are out enjoying the water for a cool cruise or some jet skiing. Anglers are trying out their new lures, finding the perfect spot on the lake or casting from the river's banks.
? Bike and pedestrian trails in Weston, Kronenwetter and elsewhere are full of serious bicyclists out for serious rides, joggers putting miles in - as well as folks out for a simple stroll or an easy bike ride.
? Local farmers markets are filling up with asparagus and lettuce, honey and crafts - and in local gardens, we're looking for the first signs that our tomatoes might bear fruit, and we're nursing the sprouts of our beets and turnips.
There are a lot of weighty topics out there in the world. But community matters, too. And on days like today, we feel deeply connected to our community. It's beautiful; the people are out, and we're thankful for where we live.