It's possible all the writing I've done over the years has been in some way a response, a pushing back against the isolation and loneliness I felt at sixteen, driving an endless loop between home and school and work, speeding through the rolling country 'burbs of southeastern Wisconsin. There, a farm. There, a subdivision. There, a snowy field. Lots of trees. Another farm. Another subdivision. Endless fields. Growing up in this landscape my edges were smoothed; I was shaped. For me, this landscape was so cold, isolating, lonely. Constantly, I seek warmth, body, connection; I seek community, conversation.
The Driftless Area feels like a hidden local secret, a region in the corners of 4 neighboring states that survived the Ice Age unglaciated. Limestone bluffs, rolling hills, and deeply carved, snaking rivers characterize the area, left standing as glaciers carved their way through the Midwest while leaving 24,000 square miles untouched. I first fell in love with the Driftless Area while riding on the back of my husband’s motorcycle over a decade ago. I remembered the lean of the bike beneath us as we hugged the curves of meandering country roads, the surprising sights of random bluffs jutting against a vibrant blue summer sky. We spent a 4th of July holiday sitting on pavement in the blazing sun along the Mississippi, drinking domestic beers while watching teenagers put on a water ski show. It was the kind of summer day that beer commercials strive to capture, when everything feels nostalgic in the moment.