When our class started discussing our final project I really had no idea what I was going to do for it. I got the idea of doing a map of my area and the connections I had with certain buildings after Jason recommended it. “Downtown has had the capability of providing something for everybody only because it has been created by everybody” (Jacobs 130), the country is not for everybody, because it is barely created in my opinion, but the country is definitely home to my family.
First on the map, I’ll start with my home, my home is identified on the map with the label ‘home’ and also a silver and purple border around it, I have lived in my home since I was two years old and my dad built it himself. We bought the property from the neighbor on the map West of me. Our neighbor was also a mason so he helped lay the bricks down on our house as well. The map doesn’t seem like it would have taken two hours and forty five minutes, but to put the distance I walked into perspective, my yard is four acres. It was 10:30 in the morning when I started my walk and I noticed three deer hanging from my swing set. Deer hunting isn’t something I enjoy but my dad and one younger sister both got deers opening morning and I was happy for them. I took the gif of the feet of the deer because I did not think anyone would have a similar video, and a full body video-in my opinion- is just gross. Most of the photos are of fields, just to show how rural the area I live in truly is, in comparison to places like Chicago.
I started the walk from my house and going North on Little Road until it ended at the intersection of Country Highway A. I can see Highway A from my dining room window so it wasn’t that far of a walk, nor were there things obstructing my view with the exception of pine trees. I had to wear neon colors on my walk due to this weekend due to it being opening weekend for deer hunters. The first building I walked past was the Town Hall. The town hall could be considered my neighbor as it is the closest thing to my house. Recently, I walked down there with my two parents to vote for the next president of the United States. My dad also is on the Town Hall Board for zoning and planning and attends a meeting there once a month. Since the Town Hall shares a property line with my house my sisters and I have to mow the lawn all spring and summer. My neighbor, the mason, used to mow the Town Hall grass but he has been fighting cancer and the bumps of the lawn would not be good for him so we just do it. By mowing the Town Hall and our house it is a good excuse to work on a tan.
When I was walking it was hard to hear anything besides passing cars, but I thought I heard something else that sounded like a cat meowing, turns out it was a rooster from one of the barns nearby. I walked up to the abandoned school called Hillcrest. Two of the ten of my great aunts and uncles attended Hillcrest when it was an active school. The two of the relatives I am speaking about are actually twins! I asked one about the school when I decided my map would include it and she said that the classes were small and everyone with similar ages all worked in the same class room. After walking to Hillcrest I turned around back to around my house. I found it sad that even though this building is owned by a big land developer in Janesville, it sits empty and lonely.
Behind my house there are many fields. The fields consisted of soybeans, alfalfa, and corn. Now they are all picked. I remember when I wanted to watch a scary movie my parents said stay away from the movie Children Of The Corn, because they thought I would have endless nightmares. When getting to the end of my road there is an older barn. I remember I also wanted to walk down to the barn to feed the horses long grass. I took a photo of the barn and only saw one horse out. My road is called Little Road and back in the day they used to call it 0.8 mile road and they used to drag race on it my Grandma said. Of course she always would add she didn’t take part in that.
I took a right turn off my road and went along a road a lot of my second cousins live on. I also knew I had a lot of relatives near me but I am very thankful none of my cousins are close in age with me because living near each other, going to the same schools and being in the same grades feels too invasive to me. These cousins are farmers in Rock County and farm over 5,000 acres. As I walked, I passed the main farm where they used to have cattle until April of this year when they decided to sell them due to poor milk prices. My older brother had worked at this farm milking and farming as a part time job and my dad would often help them do hay and drive tractor or semi for them. I got to ride in the big tractors as a child with my dad. After the farm I took a left turn on Willowdale Road and right away noticed the barn at the stop sign.
Most of the barns in my area are either used for storage, horses, or cows. This barn always had goats and a donkey but today I noticed what I think was an Alpaca, which isn’t very common but there not unheard of in my area. I assume Willowdale Road is named after the school house my grandmother went to when she was a child. At the end of the road I took another right and ended up right next to Willowdale Tavern.
Willowdale Tavern is also named after the schoolhouse my grandma went to and I also happen to work there. In the bar you see a black and white photo from the kids who went to the school there. I recognize four of the faces in the photo, which are my Grandma, and my two twin Uncles and two of my Aunts. In the article Wood-Paved Alleys it states ‘I like the secrets of the alleys as well. I like the little hiddens. I like that things we take for granted sometimes aren’t”(Dailing 1). I feel like this place is my little ‘hidden’, I don’t think most people would have such a connection to a silly bar, like me. Next to the tavern there is the original school house. I sketched it on my poster but I don’t think it looks as torn up in the sketch as it does in real life. It is in the backyard of a home, so hopefully one day the owner of the property might restore it. I ended up walking into the parking lot of the Tavern and called my sister to pick me up. My fingers and toes were frozen and I decided it was too long of a journey to walk back in one piece. Before you assume I might be acting dramatic, it was 30 degrees and windy. I had done the walk once before with my sister but it was in the summertime so I didn’t account for the cold. In my opinion, I don’t think I could show how long the walk was in just a map but I would like to include that when we walked it in the summer time I ended up with blisters on my feet and thighs.
After making the map I realized that most of the homes in my area have barns. You may be aware of the current crisis with local farms ending their small family run farms due to the rise of commercial farming. Not all of the farms I passed had cows but I can speak on even my cousins farms when saying dairy cow farming isn’t as common as it used to be. Most animals in the farms near me are either steer or horses. I think the location my parents decided to plant my family is perfect. Cities Belong to Us stated ‘the city can be a territory of no-go areas’(Hollis 1), in my area there are no ‘no goes’ I feel safer here than anywhere else. I am connected to the community in all sorts of different directions which can be super comforting. Of course, it’s not always roses when your relatives live so close to you, but I think it will always be a blessing. In these unprecedented times of a global pandemic I have been super lucky to have the option to live in a place I am always welcomed in.