From the Editor

I grew up in the flatter lands north of here, just on the edge of the St. Croix River Valley. My landscape consisted of rolling hills, lots of lakes and plenty of trees, situated as we were at the gateway to the piney region "up north." Just off the Ice Age Trail, our vocabulary of landscape included barrens, kettle and moraine. I loved that landscape, the expanses of green, the not-too-dense woods and the gently rolling hayfields of our region, which, though rather rocky, was quite conducive to farming. I came to equate this with the general landscape of the Midwest.

When my not-yet husband, a native of Caledonia, Minnesota, first brought me to the Coulee Region to visit the farm he had grown up on, I was astonished. "I didn't know there were mountains in Minnesota!" I exclaimed on the winding, back-roads drive through the bluffs and valleys to the farm site. Living in St. Paul at the time, I was familiar with the rock and water of the North Shore and the plains of the western part of the state. I'd stepped across the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, and I crossed it every day on my commute to Minneapolis-but the drive along the Mississippi on this unfamiliar stretch took my breath away.

Over time and throughout moves out East and back, my vocabulary of landscape expanded-palisades and kills and Gunks-and expanded again when we came back to the Midwest and settled in the Coulee Region. I'd lived here for several years before I had the courage to even ask what a coulee was-it sounded odd and vaguely politically incorrect. I learned a coulee was simply a valley, and those mountains were bluffs, and along the top you would find a ridge. I learned you were either a valley dweller or a ridge dweller at heart (no offense to our namesake coulees, but I'm firmly in the ridge category). I learned that even some longtime Coulee Region residents don't know the meaning of driftless, and even if you think you do, you might be wrong.

If you find yourself in this category-a newcomer to the area or not-don't fret. We at Coulee Region Women have puzzled over this vocabulary ourselves, and we have found the women with the answers. These women-from naturalists like our cover woman, Kaitlyn O'Connor, to geography professors and river scientists and archaeologists-not only possess mastery of these terms and their definitions, they also possess a deep love and excitement for the Coulee Region and its landscape-all its coulees, caves and currents-and they are eager to share what they know.

In this issue, which celebrates not only the amazing features of our region but also the strong and supportive community it embraces, we'll introduce you to native flowers and ancient artifacts, effigy mounds and goat prairies. You'll meet local women in an amazing array of STEM careers and take a guided tour of noteworthy sites on your Coulee Region travels. In our special Community section, you'll also meet women who serve our community in unique and thoughtful ways, and we've even included a guide to outdoor activities.

Focusing on community has made us grateful for our own Coulee Region Women community-our team of writers, graphic artists and photographers; our loyal advertisers and our staff members who work with them; and, of course, you, our readership of Coulee Region women.

You don't have to know the true meaning of driftless to know we have something special here, in terms of a unique landscape and community. Our hope for you this summer is that you discover the best of both. Let this issue of Coulee Region Women serve as your guide.

Betty Christiansen



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What is inside this month's issue:

Giving Voice to the Place She Loves
Naturalist Kaitlyn O'Connor educates about and advocates for the Driftless Area.

A Guide to the Driftless Area
What's a coulee? Learn this and more in this Driftless Area primer.

It Flows in Her Veins
Researcher KathiJo Jankowski is passionate about water quality.

Healthy Living
Safe Fun in the Sun
Protecting your skin is key to a healthy summer.

A Little Bit Out of the Norm
A quirky but clever apartment complements a machine shed.

Women in the Region
Unearthing a Living Past
The women of the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center unlock secrets of our region.

Picnic Pairings
Create the perfect wine-and-cheese picnic with this guide.

We Bought a Cave!
The Bishop family celebrates 25 years at one of the area's natural wonders-Niagara Cave.

More than Four Walls
TheExchange ensures families transitioning out of homelessness have the furnishings they need.

Retail Therapy
When biking the river, the forest or the marsh, hit the trails in style.

Touching the Distant Past
This summer, explore the local treasures of the Coulee Region.

Community Section
Paperback Rider
Find a roving Little Free Library at a park near you.

Guide to the Great Outdoors
From markets to music, hiking to biking, celebrate the Coulee Region outdoors.


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