Driftless Stories -

Spring 2024 Inspire(d) Editor’s Letter

By Aryn Henning Nichols | Spring 2024

Patience: We all bloom in our own time.

I totally hated the phrase “late bloomer” when I was a kid. I had two cousins – both a little older and infinitely cooler – who said I was “just a late bloomer.” They didn’t say it with malice, but boy, did it sting.

Now, decades later, I want to tell that pre-teen: It doesn’t matter. As long as you’re working on you, you’ll get where you want to be – or where you’re supposed to be – eventually. Keep at it.

Of course, there are many things we’d tell our past selves if we could. The theme for this issue is a gentle reminder: We all bloom in our own time. All we need is just a little patience (thanks, Guns N’ Roses). I dive into this topic in my infographic, “Patience in Bloom,” which leads into our spring mental health article by Olivia Lynn Schnur. Olivia gives us tips for avoiding the comparison trap, so we can continue our paths at whatever pace necessary. Hint: We need to get clear on vision and values.

It was vision and values that led Anne Butera to art. The Viroqua-based artist taught herself how to paint with watercolors at age 34, and today she is a prolific artist, online art teacher, and the creative behind the website and blog, My Giant Strawberry. Anne’s gorgeous artwork is featured on this issue’s cover. Read her story on page 16.

Anne’s blog also inspired us to create the spring paper project: a Giant Strawberry Box! You can use it as a May Day basket, a favor box, or just because it’s cute!

We promise your name doesn’t have to be Anne, Annie, or Anni to be in Inspire(d) Magazine, but we happen to have all those names in this issue! 

Annie Coleman was inspired by the summers she spent growing up at her grandparents’ Golden Horse Ranch resort north of Madison, Wisconsin. Decades later, she (along with some great help from her friends) opened Red Clover Ranch in rural Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, where folks can attend creative, enriching retreats, fun events, local dinners, and more (pg 48).

And last but most certainly not least in the “Anni list,” Anni Weilgart, former long-time Decorah resident and teacher, is featured as our Probituary (pg 66). Anni turned 100 in 2023, and as interviewer Lindy Weilgart says, “she has fewer ailments and healthier blood values than all of us.” I love the wisdom in these Q&As (see all of them here).

There’s a lot to be learned from our Driftless Community Builders as well. Ernie Johnson brings people together through vintage collectibles and cars – and with interesting conversation – at Ernie’s Garage in Whalan, Minnesota. In Decorah, Molly Holkesvik has taught, coached, and led students (and some adults) in various forms of self- and world-discovery for two decades through classes, theatre, and travel. 

You don’t have to travel too far to embrace the season with our spring ideas for fun, from peony picking to maple syrup sampling (pg 44). And speaking of maple syrup, you can learn about Iowa’s longest running business in this issue’s Sum of Your Business. We feature a Q&A with Jeni (Green) Melcher, the sixth generation of Greens to tap maple trees on their farm in rural Northeast Iowa (pg 56). (Fun fact: I grew up just up the road from Greens’ Sugarbush!)

We’re lucky to have so many cool things to do here in the Driftless. As you get out there exploring, watch for the various insects and arachnids move around again. You can learn more about the latter in conservation writer Craig Thompson’s piece on spiders (pg 62). They really are amazing (but still…shudder)!

You really are amazing too, readers! Thanks for joining us for another year of positive news! You’re the best. Read the entire Spring 2024 Inspire(d) online here, or see the story list below!

Looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

In this issue, you’ll find:

Patience: We all bloom in our own time. Artist Anne Butera • Community Builders – Ernie JohnsonMolly HolkesvikDIY Giant Paper Strawberry • Mental Health: Bloom in Your Own Time8 Fun Spring ActivitiesAnnie Coleman of Red Clover Ranch • Sum of Your Biz: Greens’ Sugarbush • Conservation: Amazing Spiders! • Probit: Anni Weilgart & More!

Bonus: Welcome spring with our Spring In Your Step playlist!