Leaves at Holy Hill

Sounds dirty, right? “Oh hey there you little leaf peeper, stop lookin in my bathroom window!” It’s not quite that. Leaf peeping is, basically, going for a walk/hike/bike/kayak/crawl/rollerblade/skate/skitch/moonwalk/trip to look at the changing leaves. Vermont is lovely this time of year (or so I’ve heard), it’s a great place to peep leaves. However, Vermont is about a thousand miles from Milwaukee, so we went to the next best place: Holy Hill Basilica and National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians.

Except, we didn’t actually go there. We went to the Holy Hill parking lot, and we were stuck in Holy Hill traffic, but we never went up to the church proper. We stayed on a different hill, one where we could barely see the church through the trees. A secular hill, if you will. That’s where we peeped.

And what a day for peeping it was! Almost overnight, the leaves had changed from green to yellow, and seemed minutes away from falling. In fact, as I’m writing this, most of the leaves around my apartment have just fallen, due to the wonderful world of October rain. Tom brought a drone, Annah brought her ever-present excitement, I brought… myself, and we took to peeping.

Boy, did we peep. We peeped long, and we peeped hard. In the air, from the ground, in photo and video form, every possible way to peep, we peeped. We peeped for hours. We peeped in the sun, under the clouds, up high on the morain and down low in the kettle. We peeped until we could peep no more. We peeped until we were pooped.

I don’t always have the kindest words to say about Milwaukee. But, standing on top of the hill, looking at the waves of colors on the changing leaves, hearing the sounds of families hiking, kids laughing, and the wind rustling, I realized that there are some things that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Sure, you could leaf peep in Vermont, or somewhere else in New England, but that’s expected for those places. In Wisconsin, no one expects to be able to climb a hill and lookout over the changing leaves. Because there are no hills in Wisconsin. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, like this entire blog post, there are no hills in Wisconsin.

So if you’re looking for a place to go leaf peep in the shadow of a Basilica, there’s no better place than Holy Hill. In fact, there may not be any other place than Holy Hill if you’re looking for those exact circumstances. That’s really specific. Maybe try and be a little more broad in your search next time?

Dan O'Keefe

Dan O'Keefe is the head chef at 21 in New York City. He has never cooked before in his life. You can find him on Twitter @danokeefe86 or on Instagram @dlraar


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