INSPIRED TO SHARE THE BEAUTY OF THE WOODS she loves, Michelle Collison Meyer started taking photographs and writing soulful poems five years ago about her nature experiences in the Driftless Area. It’s a unique geological region at the corner where Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois meet.

Glaciers left the Driftless Area untouched, preserving a hilly landscape unusual for the Upper Midwest, complete with bluffs along the Mississippi River, disappearing streams and caves. The region, surrounded by prairie, also boasts cool microclimates with species normally found much further north.

Most of Meyer’s photos and poems are set in county and state parks in southwest Wisconsin. Her work conveys an unmistakable hopefulness. Since the pandemic, many of her website visitors have told her they find comfort in what she creates.

“I really feel the human spirit as a whole benefits from being in nature,” she says. “It’s a connection that keeps us grounded.”

As winter begins to wind down and we eagerly await the spring, here are a few photos and a poem to remind us of that journey. Find more at

“Watersong.” Credit: Michelle Collison Meyer.
Space Between Sounds
“Space Between Sounds.” Credit: Michelle Collison Meyer.
"Go to the Woodlands"
“Go to the Woodlands.” Credit: Michelle Collison Meyer.

There is a splendid
Kind of silence in
Remote forest lands

Woodlands large
Enough to surround
A soul on all sides
For miles and miles

Treeland so removed
From “civilization”
That the thrumming
Of highway traffic
Does not intrude

In such a place
One can hear
Silence between
Each note of the
Forest symphony

As tree limbs sway
In the overstory above
Clicking and clacking
They send their ballad
Reverberating into
The surrounding woods

Birds join in as they
Chirrup and call
Out to each other

Squirrels add their
Notes as well while
They skitter up trees
And gossip with
One and other …

And throughout
The entire symphony
In between each
Rich, echoing note
One grasps silence
Expanding for miles
Out into the woodland

Silence uninterrupted
By highway noise
Silence enough
To breathe