“Baby Wagon Creek” will be part of the “Summer Dreams” art exhibit at the Lanesboro Arts Center. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
“Baby Wagon Creek” will be part of the “Summer Dreams” art exhibit at the Lanesboro Arts Center. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
I originally intended to write this column about getting back on area recreational trails - and how good that feels.

But then I realized I needed to extend some invitations for events the first weekend of summer on Friday through Sunday, June 20 to 22. I want to give you ample time to get these events on your calendars.

Art exhibit reception

First, I'd like to invite you all to the opening reception for the annual juried group art exhibit at the Lanesboro Arts Center set for Saturday, June 21, from 6 through 8 p.m.

"Summer Dreams" is the theme this year with works selected by 31 artists. I'm excited that my 20x16 canvas print of "Baby Wagon Creek" was selected for inclusion.

I hope you will stop by to see all the delightful works by the artists who live among us. If something speaks to you, consider making a purchase.

I enjoy thinking about the summer dreams I made on Baby Wagon Creek in the Bighorn Mountains southwest of Buffalo, Wyo. With a forest map in hand, I remember turning my Jeep north off of Highway 16 in 2007 onto a four-wheel-drive forest road. It didn't look too hairy, so I figured I'd drive on it as long as I felt comfortable. If I were lucky, I would end up where there appeared to be a stream valley strewn with boulders left behind by a long-ago glacier, as well as boggy, wet meadows. It looked like a foot trail went through the area, so I could backpack a little ways and spend the night in the valley.

The map said the stream was called Baby Wagon Creek. That's sort of an unusual name. Looking under Wyoming place names, I discover it was "named in 1893 by D. A. Kingsbury. Suggested Babywagon as they had brought along a baby buggy for their daughter, Julia, while on a camping trip."

When I reached the end of the road I found a truck parked. Baby Wagon Creek had lured in a trout fisherman accompanied by his friendly, yellow, longhaired dog. We talked for a bit, and then I threw items in my backpack and headed up and across the valley.

It was getting to be early evening, so I didn't go all that far. As I started setting up my tent, I discovered the one inconvenient truth about Baby Wagon Creek. It was a wonderful stream in a gorgeous mountain environment and - with all that moisture - there were a billion mosquitoes!

Buzzing and biting was the name of the game. I couldn't even squat outside to relieve myself without getting stung. So as the sun was setting and the mosquitoes got worse, I just sat in my tent. Mind you this was 2007, long before cable television shows had made me familiar with such typical problems of outdoor survival in wet areas.

The next day I harbored ideas of trekking farther up into the mountains. I packed up and took off on a marked snowmobile trail. But again mosquitoes made life miserable. I was wearing a head netting to keep them away from my face and neck; still they were all around.

I made it as far as the next stream valley - Virginia Creek - before deciding to simply head back to the Jeep and drive away to somewhere with fewer mosquitos. During that endeavor I "ran" through a mucky, wet bog that I somehow escaped without floundering and getting stuck. I ran into remnants of a grazing allotment fence and metal sign designating the area, and also saw a group of horseback riders.

I can look back now and remember Baby Wagon Creek as a good time - even with all the mosquito bites.

The wetness and lushness of the valley was all defining. I like that the photo I took - and what I feel is a great depth of field - puts you right in the middle of it for your own summer dream.

"Summer Dreams" will be on display through Aug. 10 at the Lanesboro Arts Center.

Also that weekend

Head to Aztalan State Park in Wisconsin on the evening of Saturday, June 21, and celebrate the formal beginning of summer on the summer solstice - the longest day of the year. The Friends of Aztalan State Park will host the annual Solstice Party and program at the park beginning at 6:30 p.m. with snacks and beverages at the park shelter.

The seasonal movements of the sun were important in the religious beliefs of the ancient Mississippian people who built a large, fortified town here with large earthen platform mounds over 800 years ago.

This year's program will feature a presentation by archaeologist Dr. Timothy Pauketat at 7:30 p.m. on his new book "An Archaeology of the Cosmos" that examines evidence for astronomical observation, including lunar cycles, at the Mississippian capital city of Cahokia in southern Illinois and discusses the relationship of such observations to Mississippian religion.

Dr. Pauketat is an authority on the Mississippian culture and is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books on the topic. Autographed copies of his new book will be available for purchase at the event.

The evening will conclude with viewing the sunset (weather permitting) from the northwest platform mound where a large burial structure once stood oriented in the direction of the summer and winter solstices, symbolic of the cycle of death and rebirth of the world.

The program is free but a Wisconsin State Park sticker (either day or annual) is needed and can be purchased at the park. Donations for the construction of planned new visitor center at Aztalan also are welcome.

For more information call Friends of Aztalan State Park executive director Bob Birmingham at (608) 516-3421 or Kurt Sampson at (414) 405-4367.

Lisa Brainard is rehabilitating at home after suffering a major fall followed by a stroke in 2012. She can be contacted by e-mailing lbrainard@bluffcountrynews.com.