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                Ryan Coughlin, writer of "Right Handed Lefty" ... We all have baggage. Real friends help carry it.

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Driftless Area

Posted by Ryan Coughlin on August 4, 2017 at 12:30 AM
This was scrapped as an introduction from Right Handed Lefty. My wife said, "it reads like an encyclopedia." A good friend and fellow author said, "Dude, get to th real story." Both were good advice, so I chucked it... Thousands of years ago, after dinosaurs and before people, continent-sized glaciers carved sections of Earth's outer layer like pressed bulldozer blades, flattening the Northern United States. The slow-moving mass loosened silt, clay, and gravel on the planet's crust--known as drift. The massaged dirt became tillable farm land, suitable for crops and sustainable whole grain. Enough to feed millions of Holstein cows and a world's worth of dairy products. All of the Midwest was mowed by the ice sheets, except in one unusual spot the Driftless Area. Its Karst landscape remained awkward and unpredictable; filled with caves, sinkholes, and streams that disappeared into the ground. The permeable rock had tall, rough ridges divided by deep, narrow valleys--called coulees--that seemed to stop abruptly, as if the valleys changed their mind about where they were headed. Although some of the Driftless Area was in Minnesota, Eastern Iowa, and the tip of Northwestern Illinois, the bulk of it was in Southwestern Wisconsin. It was a sanctified anomaly. Innocent. Unwashed and beautiful. Theories for the rare pocket were debated, with as much reason to believe that God shielded the area as there was for any scientific reason. Attracted to the untapped natural resources, Native Americans settled there. Of these, Dakotas and Iowans from the Sioux race, along with some Ho-Chunk tribes were some of the indigenous peoples that decided to stay. They occupied the land without the need to coexist; they were self-segregated by nature's way, not man's design. But like all good, peaceful, unspoken treaties, a collapse was only a matter of time. In the 1600's French explorers, such as Jean Nicolet and, thirty years later, teenage translator Louis Joliet and Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette, espied a new pathway that went deeper into unchartered parts of the fresh American landmass--Michigan and Wisconsin. This led to an established infrastructure that connected Montreal to the Mississippi River. Nicolet, Joliet, and Marquette were explorers and missionaries that sought discovery and religious transformation; but subsequent waves of feisty settlers, free-ranging profiteers, and military men came in droves to capitalize on fur trade and lead mines. Times had changed. Peace was left hanging in the balance. In the East, soldiers from fledgling Colonial United States of America battled traveled British fighters, jockeying to take land and gain troops however possible. They closed in on the Driftless Area. Its pureness was dirtied by an influx of displaced hostile-minded tribes, eager settlers, and military men all competing for position, power, and survival. The once hallowed land was smeared by modern times.

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