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TRAVELER is no Mr. Blackwell of the seasons. From this perch, autumn is always in style. The day does come, however, when one must choose: Should a fall day be spent outdoors, frolicking in a riot of clear-blue skies and leafy rainbows? Or indoors, pursuing edifying amusements with central heating? We offer a few suggestions below. (P.S. Yes, you can wear a silk cravat with Sorel boots. If you must.)
If the bluebird of happiness neglected to visit your boxes this summer, don't despair. Instead, head over to West Bend on November 2-4 for the Wild Bird, Wildlife & Backyard Habitat Expo. This popular event combines two of the fastest-growing outdoor activities in the country – bird and wildlife watching and gardening. The expo features demonstrations on building backyard ponds and other habitat, natural history talks and displays, and a special photography show. Visitors can learn which trees, shrubs, flowers and plants attract birds and wildlife, pick up tips on coping with problem wildlife, and get help planning special strategies for butterflies, bats, frogs and turtles. Attend this event, and next year that flighty little bluebird may actually come a-calling. Washington County Fair Park, West Bend. 1-800-324-3337.
Be dazzled by the light – and the extraordinary shapes and colors – of 11 spectacular blown glass "chandeliers" created by artist Dale Chihuly. Originally exhibited over the canals and courtyards of Venice in 1996, the Chihuly Over Venice chandeliers illuminate the Quadracci Pavilion Galleries at the Milwaukee Art Museum through November 11. Chihuly's creations, profoundly inspired by nature, have been compared to fungi, flowers, anemones and sea creatures. Artists under Chihuly's direction in the United States, Finland, Ireland, Mexico, and Italy crafted the chandeliers from hundreds of pieces of hand-blown glass, and each one reflects the country in which it was made. A shimmering waterfall of clear glass with etched surfaces, for instance, evokes the springs and streams of Waterford, Ireland. The chandeliers weigh as much as a ton apiece, yet appear almost weightless. (414) 224-3220.
Halloween goes underground this year at the Ledge View Nature Center in Chilton. On October 20, visitors can explore Ledge View's caves and trails by candlelight. If that's not spooky enough for your brood of little goblins, live bats will be on hand to lend that note of holiday authenticity. The kids will also enjoy a puppet show, cider and caramel apples. Rumor has it that a "batmobile" will be flying in for the event. Holy echolocation, Batman! 6-8:30 p.m. W2348 Short Road, Chilton. (920) 849-7094. On October 27 at the Bong State Recreation Area in Kansasville, the whole family can take part in an Eco-Halloween Hike. Jack-o-lanterns light the trails while Halloween characters drift about in the shadows. This is billed as "a non-scary event," which means it is safe for parents. 6-8 p.m., Group Side F, 26313 Burlington Rd. (262) 878-5600.
Only three major fruits are native to North America. One – the cranberry – is Wisconsin's number one fruit crop. Some marshes in the state have been successfully producing cranberry crops for more than 100 years. You can see the cranberry harvest, and likely plenty of wildlife, along the Cranberry Highway, an approximately 50-mile-long self-guided auto tour on state and county highways through south Wood County. For two-wheel travelers, the Cranberry Trail marks out a 24- to 53-mile bike route on back roads (some of which are not paved) in the same area.
If you take your cranberry cruise before October 26, you'll have a better chance of seeing the harvest -- and you can take advantage of special lodging, restaurant and attraction offers in Wisconsin Rapids and other cranberry communities. Call 1-800-554-4484 for a map and brochure, or visit Wisconsin Rapids Area.
Curious about those other two fruits, are you? Think cobbler and jam...blueberry and Concord grape!