From the Publisher

Photo by Eric Tadsen at Lilys Mercantile & Makery

What a difference a couple of months make! Leading up to Memorial Day, we were in the 40s and 50s with rain and frost warnings, and just afterward, the start of an intense heat outbreak with drought conditions. This spring’s end has not only been dramatic on the weather front, but also on our lives.

When I wrote my January/February issue letter, I was looking forward to the end of 2020 with a sense of relief and caution. Even though I acknowledged a new year didn’t mean the end of COVID-19, it felt like there was a glimmer of hope. In my March/April letter, I spoke of looking forward to the day when the pandemic would cease to loom over us. My May/June letter spoke of a beautiful 74-degree day, the progress of vaccinations, and the contrast of that feeling of hope as we surpassed 550,000 deaths.

This, our July/August issue, finds us with mask mandates lifted, people beginning to venture out again, and a return to some sense of “normalcy,” whatever that looks like for each individual. Though the risks of COVID-19 may be reduced, with the death toll surpassing 600,000, they are not gone; there’s still a very vulnerable segment of our population whose lives are at risk. Please remain vigilant when it comes to safety and cautious in your actions, and be respectful to those who need our support in following precautions, such as mask wearing, and to those businesses continuing the practice.

Inside, you can enjoy our conversation with La Kitchenette owner Virginie Ok as we learn about her love for preparing traditional French comfort food and Asian-influenced recipes. And it’s a fascinating discussion about native foods and indigenous ingredients with Elena Terry, chef and founder of Wild Bearies. It was also a beautiful drive to meet Teresa and Lily McMahan of Paoli and Lily’s Mercantile & Makery so we could share the story behind their business.

Our other features include the continuation of our ceramics series, this time in Illinois; a new Sandy Eichel article; Chris Brockel of FEED Kitchens and Healthy Food for All; the story of the Historic First Lutheran Church; separation anxiety in pets; the next story in our JustDane series; and as we are returning to our shopping and dining lifestyles, Travel Wisconsin uncovers another hidden Wisconsin gem: Eau Claire.

I hope you’ll not only enjoy our articles, but are encouraged to support the people and places we introduce you to. It’s about community, and thank goodness we can feel safer to explore again.

Amy Johnson