Morning Wood Acres: A Heathen Haven in the Driftless
When I first began this blog, I wrote about a a retreat in The Driftless Area of Wisconsin. That was two years ago. Today, it remains a very magical place for me. It is one I could see myself happily and easily residing in one day. Every time I visit, it is harder to return. One of our good friends, Danny Smith, rents the old house from a farmer in the Boscobel area. Smith resides alone, atop a hill, at the end of a 1/4-mile driveway. As far as the eye can see, there are no neighbors. Just some occasional curious cows, and miles and miles of lush, green, rolling Driftless.
Smith coined the nick-name, "Morning Wood Acres," for his humble abode as sort of tongue in cheek – although it is not unusual for one to awake feeling rather lazy and sensual in these surroundings. For the last two years, AJ Page and I have heartily enjoyed attending his now annual Fourth of July weekend pizza party. Ever resourceful, Smith fashioned his own outdoor mud oven in one of the sheds. With the use of a wood paddle, everyone can design, share, and enjoy their own specialty gourmet pizza. These delectable 'zas are often crafted from fresh, local ingredients, featuring garlic and veggies grown in Smith's own yard. If you stand in the mud shed long enough when it is lit, it can double as a sauna.
Locals and friends from as far away from Milwaukee and Illinois come to cavort for an overnight, or the weekend. Since there are often many musicians in attendance, impromptu singing, mandolin, fiddle, and guitar playing break out and last well into the night. This year AJ neglected to bring his drums, and I was sadly without even a maraca. Since there were several cries for percussion, a drum kit was neatly fashioned from the top of a grill and two spatulas. I got a little backup shake going on with a pepper mill, and an empty jar half-filled with cannellini beans. It was pretty near impossible not to have some fun with that.
Two large truck wheel hubs make the perfect fire pit for bonfires. I am not exaggerating when I say these are some of the most beautiful sunsets on earth. You'll want to grab a front row seat and watch them light up the sky for their big finale of the day. The wine and conversation flow freely here, and dancing or quietly meditating on the landscape are all part of the mix. You can comfortably pitch a tent in many an area on the property, and that is just what we did. For others, an oversized rope hammock, the downstairs sofa, or a guest room suffice.
In the stillness when things quiet down, you're liable to hear the helicopter wing whir of a hummingbird – several of them flock to the Acres. Fireflies light up the horizon of another perfect day. Along with Smith, fellow musician and lady love, Julie Anne Lovely Thompson, are wonderful hosts. It becomes natural to hang out with them longer than you intended, appreciating just slowing down, out in the middle of nowhere. There is always a memorable time awaiting, and I for one, can't wait to see what next year might bring.
If you too wish to experience this warm hospitality, you can do so via Smith's Airbnb page: