Michel: Come what May

Madison comes alive in May
Michel: Come what May

Madison’s landscape comes alive in May with blooming foliage that thrives in our short growing season. I’ve always been a fan of wildflowers and looked forward to seeing the wood violets suddenly appear on the hillside behind the house where I grew up. When I was a child, I’d pick a bunch for my mother and she’d react as if I’d just handed her a bouquet of roses. She’d put them in a jelly jar and place them on the dinner table as a tiny centerpiece, barely noticeable to anyone else.

That thought came to mind as I wrote this month’s Sector piece on the increasing demand for locally grown flowers (page 34). Although 80 percent of flowers sold in this country are imported, florists in our region are getting more requests for product grown by local farmers. And in talking to people in the floral business, I was reminded that Mother’s Day is one of the busiest times of the year for flower sales.

Mom would have loved this month’s cover story on barbecue (starting on page 50). Not only was she a great cook, she appreciated the time and skill it takes to prepare slow roasted meat. The descriptions of local barbecue by our award-winning writer Aaron R. Conklin took me back to my days in Texas, when my husband and I lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We had easy access to some of the best barbecue joints in the state. I now judge all brisket by the flavor of mesquite–post oak and hickory, too–smoked into beef that’s tender and juicy on the inside and grilled to perfection on the outside. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

The side dishes are equally important. In this issue, we call out some creative ones to spice things up. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to sides. Potato salad adds just the right tang and starch to offset the thick and sassy sauces. Mom made the best potato salad. Sometimes when I bear down on a mess of ‘cue, I think about how much better it would taste with her delicious spud salad. I’m sure I will have a moment like that during Madison Magazine’s BBQ Festival in Sauk City, May 19 and 20. (See page 99 for the low-down.) Be sure to come and see us at this outdoor festival, which combines barbecue, music and fun.

May is blossoming in such colorful ways. I hope I catch the wild violets in bloom.