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January 27, 2009 / Bo Mackison


...and waiting and waiting and waiting

...and waiting and waiting and waiting

Though Madison has five lakes in the city or just south of the city, it is usually called the City of Four Lakes. The four lakes are successive lakes of the Yahara River. In the summer, it’s great fun to launch a boat in Lake Mendota (“Fourth Lake”) and travel through the lakes and connecting waters passages, heading south past Lake Monona (“Third Lake”), Lake Waubesa (“Second Lake”), and into Lake Kegonsa (“First Lake”). The Yahara River eventually flows into the Rock River which eventually flows into the Mississippi. Lake Wingra, the fifth lake, is not a part of the Yahara system, though it is inside the city proper. Wingra, quite small, is mostly used for canoeing or fishing or just lake watching.

Downtown Madison is positioned between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, and the area is usually referred to as the Isthmus. As in “I’m going to the Isthmus” or occasionally one might say “I’m going to the Capitol” (which is smack dab in the middle of the isthmus). Only infrequently does one hear “I’m going downtown.” Every school kid in Madison grows up knowing what an isthmus is, and how to get to Madison’s Isthmus. Madison even has a newspaper called The Isthmus.

Of Madison’s 85 square miles, 81% is land and 19% is water. Lots of water fun in Madison.

Though right now, it’s more like lots of ice fun – skating, cross-country skiing on the snow covering the ice, kite sailing, and ice fishing for hardy souls.


  1. montucky / Jan 27 2009 9:30 am

    Probably kind of hard to launch a boat right now, eh?

  2. Robin / Jan 27 2009 10:42 am

    The more you post about Madison, the more I’d like to visit. I’ll wait for warmer weather, though. 🙂

  3. Bo / Jan 27 2009 10:58 am

    Robin — It would be great fun for you to come visit Madison, and even better if you come visit me, too!

    I am almost as good as a tour guidebook. There is a lot to do and see. Wouldn’t that be fun?

  4. Robin / Jan 27 2009 11:09 am

    I think it would be tons of fun, Bo. I intend to take you up on that offer. 🙂

  5. Laurie / Jan 27 2009 4:39 pm

    I love the lines in this composition. Such a beautiful place!

  6. jeju / Jan 27 2009 5:50 pm

    nice lines

  7. ybonesy / Jan 27 2009 10:21 pm

    This is really beautiful!! I love the steam coming up from the ice. Is that what it is?

  8. Marcie / Jan 28 2009 6:32 am

    Love the repetition of the shapes and forms of the docks. Madison sounds like a wonderful place. Someday..maybe???

  9. Xtine / Jan 28 2009 3:08 pm

    This photo is amazing in the variety of shades of black and white that you captured. It reminds of the sparkling sunny winter days of my childhood that were so vibrant in energy and the simple colors of black, white and the intense blue of the midwestern sky in midwinter. Ice skating was especially sublime on those days.

  10. Gandalf / Jan 29 2009 10:15 am

    Very nice shot.

  11. quinncreative / Jan 29 2009 2:23 pm

    The color in here blows me away. And the fog–or is it steam–softens it to great effect. But damn, if I lived in Madison, I’d have to say “downtown” because I sound like Daffy Duck when I say “isthmus.”

  12. Bo / Jan 29 2009 2:35 pm

    Quinn–you say it fast enough, you can get by saying “iz-mus” and you’d fit right it.

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