Peter Patau Photo>Madison's South Park Street is a typically cluttered urban thoroughfare -- a hodgepodge of body shops, beauty parlors, restaurants, bars, gas stations, carwashes and miscellaneous small businesses. I drive to work that way every morning and usually don't even take my eye off traffic long enough to really look at my surroundings. But when I got to the corner of Park and Fish Hatchery the other morning, I happened to look to the left down Parr Street, toward the lake. I was staring at a pastel epiphany that could have come straight from an Old Dutch landscape painting.
The sun was blocked by clouds, tinting everything with an otherworldly pastel morning light. The line of trees on John Nolen Drivey behind the rippling puddles on the ice of Brittingham Bay could as well have been lining a dike in Holland. It was too late to turn left on Parr, but I circled back to the lake as quickly as I could, hoping the light would hold until I got there with my camera. It did -- providing this strangely tranquil vision of natural beauty in the heart of a city preoccupied with getting to work.