One of the most uncomfortable ways to start a conversation with a neighbor, perhaps even with someone you don’t know, is hearing the words “excuse me, is this your …” After those five words, your eyes roll and your head goes backward as if wondering if word No. 6 is going to be “kid” or “dog,” and I’m not yet sure which of those I’d prefer.

This last time, it was Piper, the border collie. Piper’s play drive is not easily quenched with a simple toss every five minutes or so, but recent work being done around the house did not allow for more attention to be paid. She apparently became rather fed up with my lack of ability to match her enthusiasm, and decided to tour the neighborhood in search for another play mate.

Once returned, she came over to apologize for her misdeed, and asked for a belly rub by laying on her back at my mild admonishment. Should my neighbor not have located her, and she continued her tour, someone would’ve been able to read her official Town of Madison dog tag that jingles as she walks. If you have been disregarding my advice that I’ve been handing out since January regarding dog registrations, the civil forfeitures are now in the hands of the Madison Police, and we’re making in person deliveries to the owners of deviant doggies.

In a time that seems that everything is being canceled to help slow the spread of the dreaded COVID-19, Madison Old Home week has some good news: Some of the events are on. Although the list of events is tamped down from most years, the events of the historical society yard sale on Aug. 1, chicken barbecue on Aug. 2, ice cream smorgasbord on Aug. 5, golf tournament, James Wellinghurst Memorial 5k and the beloved bean hole supper on Aug. 8 will move forward, although with a bit of a spin.

The beanpole supper will be served at Burke field with all the other food events. Takeout is available for all the food events. The golf tournament will be modified as well. Teams may play their round at anytime throughout the week, and record their scores at the pro shop. The scores and winners will be tallied up, and the proceeds that benefit the Madison Scholarship Fund will be collected right at Indian Mound Golf Club.

In a similar virtual fashion, the James Wellinghurst 5K may be run anytime from Sunday through Tuesday. Printed Old Home Week schedules may be found at places such as Town Hall, or on the town website at

Times they are a changin’ ever still. Sept. 15 of this year will be the 82nd anniversary of the purchase of a lot that is known to us locally as the “foot of the lake” beach. The beach provides unrivaled scenery and accommodations for one to escape the summer heat. Unfortunately, overcrowding has become a serious topic in town for the last several years.

Before, in order to use the beach, one must be a taxpayer with a resident sticker, or would need to purchase a guest pass for the steep cost of $2 for the year. Many in town did not agree with the low cost of the guest pass, and were often frustrated in the lack of parking and space which was occupied by visitors from out of town. Last August, folks joined with the board of selectmen to change things up. Now, guest passes are a thing of the past. The foot of the lake beach parking is for the use of residents only. The parking fine of $25 was often anticipated, and considered a bargain by those that visited despite the rules. That was jacked up to $100 for both the beach and the boat launch parking areas. The transfer station is also no longer accepting guest passes. If you’re here visiting, you’ll need to pony up $5 per bag of trash you bring in.

More changes are coming in the way of fees for using the boat launch. If you’re a Madison boater, and are about to crumple up the paper and toss it in the trash in disgust, don’t do it yet. You probably haven’t read Pearls Before Swine or Garfield yet, and there’s no charge for Madison residents. The ramp has fallen victim to misuse such as power loading as well as perhaps some weathering from ice. The bad news is that it may cost in the area of 15K or more to repair. Relatively speaking, the ramp isn’t all that old for the wear that it has taken. On the brighter side, the new fees (which will be finalized soon)will be directed to do just that. Help keep the ramp a gradual entrance into the lake rather than a sudden drop.

Here’s hoping you’re able to find a way to beat the summer heat. Work, home renovation projects and pandemics have kept the hands busy and away from some of our normal summer things like ocean visits and a poorly played round of golf. I suppose that’s what we are content doing, commenting or complaining about the weather. Either it’s too damn hot or cold, rains too much or not enough, the heavy wet snow or the light and fluffy. Commiseration can sometimes be as friendly as your neighbor. Now where’s that damn dog.

Bob King can be contacted at

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