Conceived, born, and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin—that’s me, Paul Vincent Bartlett, a (displaced) cheesehead. And not of your typical Wisconsin lineage.
The first thing I saw when Dad turned our car down Grandma’s street in Merriam Park was the sky-high catalpa tree in her front yard. It was the only “cigar tree” on the block, and when I spied it, I knew we were almost there. It was a beautiful tree, with frilly white flowers in the spring that magically became long, brown seedpods in late summer.
My nails have been black for over a week now. This is the price I pay for picking mulberries, whose juice has a staining power the military might want to look into. Under the guilty tree, a (doomed) white car has been parked for the past nine days, and I know from experience that its hood will never be pure white again: pale pink blooms will adorn its surface, souvenirs of its time beneath that tree.