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Pebbles worn smooth

Standing with my toes in the warm sand, I watched my four-year-old daughter Violet coax out string on a small, orange kite. We were staying with my parents, brother, and his family at a little vacation house on the lakeside of Door County for a few days this summer.

There was talk of going into Baileys Harbor or Fish Creek for some sightseeing, or maybe taking a trip up to Sister Bay for lunch at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant (the place with the goats on the roof). But none of us could muster the willpower to leave the beach. 

It’s a cliché, but it’s true: the water really was a hundred kinds of blue. A warm wind carrying that lake smell kept the kite aloft—and kept my feet firmly planted. I had a rare moment of feeling no obligation other than, well, the moment. This is what I am doing today, I thought. 

Violet walked a little closer to the water’s edge, where big waves stripped away the sand to reveal smooth pebbles of many shapes and sizes. She let out a bit more string and I made a reach for the kite handle, for her, so close to the churning waters. “Dad, I can do it myself,” she said, pulling the handle away from me. She let out a bit more string and wiggled her toes in the surf.

As I took a step back from her, I looked north along the shoreline at a nearby cluster of trees and chewed my lip. “Honey, why don’t you reel it in a bit, huh? Or maybe we should fly the kite over here?” pointing away from the trees—and from the water’s edge. 

She smiled, shook her head as if to say I’m just fine where I am thank you, reveling in her capacity for testing limits of all kinds. I laughed and picked up a few of those stones, which were perfect for skipping. 

In this issue of the magazine, you’ll find articles and essays about people across the state who test limits and take chances. In doing so, they are creating new scientific discoveries, inspiring art, and captivating experiences that are improving life in Wisconsin.

I hope you enjoy reading about them. Perhaps this issue will inspire you to consider the moment, to let out the string a bit and see what happens.

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Jason A. Smith is the associate director of the Wisconsin Academy and editor of the organization's quarterly magazine of Wisconsin thought and culture, Wisconsin People & Ideas.

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