A lovely day at the lake house today -- blue skies, nice breeze, pleasant and warm. The only thing missing was coffee, so I went in search of a Venti Iced Latte before I got a caffeine headache. I guess I should never go to Borneo or Malawi or other such destinations without Starbucks, huh. Although for all I know they are littered with them.

I sit outside, and the young guy who takes my order comes outside to clean off a table, and strikes up a conversation. He is tall, good-looking, walking the line between goofball teen and assured young man. He talks about Badger football, season tickets, how he is going to Madison in the fall as a freshman, hopes to get into the business school. I ask him where he is from, and he tells me he was raised in the same small town I was. I tell him that my dad used to be mayor there, and we talk about his neighborhood, which is behind a park I spent many hours at when I was little. There are many years separating us and our experiences of living in the same town. When I was there, it had maybe 3000 people, had one main road through town, defined by the lakes and farms, small businesses, churches, quiet. Now it has 7000 people -- not a huge increase but hey, and the character of the town is completely different. It's now an upscale bedroom-community, 45 minutes by highway to Milwaukee, dominated by the Lang Companies, a paper goods/calendar/gift company. Mr. Lang pretty much bought up the town and put up pretty red brick buildings, where there are now busy restaurants, groovy coffeehouses, specialty food stores...even the gas station looks fancy.

I wonder what my dad would've thought of it all. He wanted the town to modernize, improve, grow responsibly. I just don't know if he would've dug the single-vision thing though. He was an individualist, my dad, and somehow I think he would've liked to have seen some of the funky old family shops remain, the crusty bars, the swampy green fishing spot in the middle of town where people sat with bamboo poles waiting for a bite, rather than a paved-over glossy "riverwalk."

As the young Starbucks dude goes back into the store, I wish him good luck at Madison, and he seems genuine in his thanks to me. I had forgotten there are people like that, just nice. He will do well in school, ace the business school, grab a decent job in Chicago or Minneapolis, and someday revisit our small town with his wife and children, and think about how it was and how it changed.