© kjm

Maybe it's because I'm focused visually when I'm working, but I find it comforting to be in places where the people around me are speaking another language. Overhearing Americans talk while traveling can also be comforting, but mostly it spoils the notion of solitary exploration. People usually assume I'm a Japanese tourist, so most of the time I can eavesdrop on conversations.

While in a butcher shop in the Chianti wine region (the shot above is actually from different butcher shop a few towns away), I heard two women talking. Not one to make small talk (and thereby ruin others' notion of solitary exploration), I couldn't get over the fact that they sounded like Milwaukeeans. And not the cartoonish Fargo movie version of a Midwestern accent, but a subtle intonation that I thought I recognized. "Are you from Wisconsin?," I asked. And sure enough, both women lived about 5 miles from my house.


kathryn said...

that's a very bizarre but wonderful photo and i also liked the story.

Brett Kosmider said...


I grew up in Cedarburg (now in Mineesooohhhtahhhh) but I feel the same way - you can tell theres a subtle difference. When Wisconsin went to the Rose Bowl umpteen years ago I always scowled when the TV announcers said "Wess-con-sin". Another subtle thing is how locals say "Mel-wau-kee" or "Muh-wau-kee" (thats how I think I say it). Going further down the path, those of us who grew up in SE Wisconsin are about the only ones on the planet to call a water fountain a "bubbler", and while the rest of the state calls it "pop" I'm glad us Milwaukeeans call it soda.