Back to the basics

Summer’s over. I’ve accepted it. The cornfields are chopped, the geese are flying south and the cold bite of northern winter is starting to show itself some nights. No more shorts for Emma. (Which has its upside because now I don’t have to shave my legs for six months.)

The ride here is over too. What began as a challenge I laid on myself to write down my thoughts here every single day kind of ended in a flop. (Somehow I knew it would…ahem.) But it was fun while it lasted! Now I’m heading back over to Blogger because I got to missing my old blog, and because WordPress continues to baffle me. From now on you can find me at my Sugar Mountain, where I’ll be up to the usual mischief. So long friends – it’s been real. 🙂



Into the west

When Emma came out west, it wasn’t like Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves, on an army wagon headed across the plains to Fort Sedgewick. It wasn’t like Jacob Wheeler joining up with Jedediah Smith’s band of backwoodsmen to carve paths in the mountains. It certainly wasn’t like Michaela Quinn boarding a train from Boston with her medical bag and her good name. It wasn’t even like Elizabeth Thatcher in When Calls the Heart, though that’s coming closer, but thankfully I haven’t blown up a wood stove yet. I don’t know why I always imagined I’d come out here in a covered wagon pulled by a team of mules, with the wind blowing my hair and the courage of the ages beneath my calico-clad bosom. Clearly I watch a lot of movies; it wasn’t anything like that. The reality was I hopped on a plane, flew over two time zones, saw the desert from the sky, landed in a big scary airport and sat there with my boots propped up on my mom’s old suitcase until the shuttle came to take me out of the city and into the mountains. 

The shuttle driver, who could use a trip to the dentist if his health insurance allows, threw my earthly belongings unceremoniously into the back of his van along with the other passenger’s. For two hours I sat squished against a stranger, with a family chattering away in a foreign language behind me, all the while glued to the window trying to see what was so magical about this place. Would I feel the way those frontiersmen of old felt, once I saw it? Was there any of that unearthly beauty left after so many years and so many people? For the first half hour all I could see were city suburbs. Even when I saw the mountains spike up in the distance, I wondered: are they still the same mountains? Are they still as majestic? I didn’t feel the way I thought I would, not like they do in the Love Comes Softly movies. I felt small and alone and tired from being all by myself across the country.

The road to the ranch grew twisty and narrow, following the river. The mountains got closer, until we were actually driving right through them, and I couldn’t look over the side because, instead of being overwhelmed with the magnitude and splendor of it, I was overwhelmed with the magnitude of the very real possibility that the van would tip over and I was going to die. I kept my seat and wished for someone who spoke English to tell all these things to, but the kid sitting next to me had earbuds in.

The first time I saw the ranch was at night. I was so tired I couldn’t manage much more than “my name’s Emma, I’m from New York” and then proceed to tell them I didn’t mean New York City, let alone remember everyone’s names. I hung my hat and went to bed, still wondering where that feeling was, the one Jim Craig has when he rides his horse up on that plateau and he can see for miles until forever. 

Not really having much choice, I jumped into the swing of life here. Or rather floated into it. Floated sounds like too breezy of a word; how about stumbled. This is a totally new place with a horde of unfamiliar people who all know each other (and who all packed warmer clothes than I did) and here I am still wondering why i don’t feel like Belle Starr, why I didn’t know it was going to be this cold, and why I’m already homesick to the point of tears after only 24 hours. 

Go to Colorado, I thought. It will be easy; you’ll do fine. This episode so far has been a lot of things, none of them easy. For those first few days I thought I had done it for sure, and Grandpa had the right idea after all – “If you don’t like it, you can always just come back.”

To which I replied, naively and overconfidently, “I can’t do that!”

I got myself into this. I should see myself through. So even while I wondered that first week what the heck I was doing and why I thought this would be such a great idea in the first place, I knew all I had to do was stick it out. 30-odd days. Surely something a grown girl like me could do. Even if I made no friends, and the boys shied away from me. Even if I cried sometimes when it got dark and I thought of the bonfires at home. 

People asked me what I thought of the first week. “I’m okay,” I said, because anything more than that was too telling. They don’t know what ‘okay’ means and neither frankly do I. By the end of the week, they were still asking. And I began to have more to tell them – “This is much better than before” or “This was so much fun” or “I feel so much more at peace about my whole entire life than I did five days ago.” Something really weird happened and I started to make friends. The girl in the kitchen who doesn’t care what other people think. The Snow White lookalike from Indiana who is just as much an angel as anyone on earth. The rich girl from up North who loves her brothers and sisters and has big plans for the future. The red headed twins who just want to find girls whose dads have good hunting land. In a place like this everybody acts like they want to be your friend, but they can’t until you decide for yourself that you’ll come out of your hidey hole and do your part, because you want it, too.

I’m still not wearing flowered calico and there is no bold musical score ringing from the mountaintop as I scrub my laundry on a washboard in a leafy clearing, but I am not sorry I came to Colorado. One day at a time. And hey, if I can adapt, then anyone can.

The mountains, even though they make me feel small and I miss my eastern plains, really are beautiful.

 Emma ❤

So many beans, so little time • also 70s rock invasion

Stuff that’s broken: my laptop (excuse for not blogging…one of the more legitimate ones) • also my baby toenail, apparently there’s a wall in my house I never noticed before

Stuff that’s fixed: my Ranger! A thousand hearts and happy faces! (Thank you Daddy!)

Stuff that’s dirty: my feet • my mouth sometimes 

Stuff that’s clean: the bunny cages • my desk finally • we’re still working on the kitchen…

Stuff that’s in season: cherries • raspberries • messy hair • 12 hour days

Stuff that’s curious: the two-toned brown Ford that keeps driving by our house…

Stuff thats just plain weird: me painting my fingernails. (It’s terrible what those boys drive you to do.) 

Stuff that needs tending to: the garden • my bank account • my wardrobe • maybe my hair if I have time left

Stuff that consumes all my time: one word – beans.

Stuff I can’t get enough of: Chris Blanchard’s Farmer to Farmer podcasts! I just want to farm. Forever. With a guy.

Stuff I don’t really like: getting rained on • the public • talking to the public

Stuff I really love: butter pecan ice cream • Brantley Gilbert’s old songs • selling wholesale 

Stuff that keeps me up way too late: Steven spielberg’s Into the West

Stuff that makes me laugh my you -know-what-off: Outlaw’s skoal pouches commercial • please don’t watch it • but seriously a week later I’m still laughing 

Stuff that blows my mind: God’s grace. And how everything falls into place for the next thing. And how somehow I believe it’ll happen.

Stuff that makes me grin like a fool: 

Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

New Kid in Town – The Eagles 

I think I’ve hit on the difference between a blogger and a writer. A blogger writes to publish; they publish everything they write. A blogger isn’t much without a reader. A writer however requires no reader to fulfill their job, at least the basic essence of it. They write what they need to release and tell, even if not to a specific audience, and they only publish it when they feel it’s good enough or strong enough or something that needs to be heard, for whatever good it might do. Even if no one reads it it’s still written, which is a writer’s job.

I have not been much of either this month! Besides neglecting this space I’ve hardly written anything for myself. The only journal entries I can manage when I get home from a bonfire at 11:30 pm and my legs are jello from running and my head feels like a bowling ball, aren’t much more than monosyllables. I’ve started writing down mostly things people have said, so if you were to read my journal (which I don’t recommend btw because it could end in your personal injury) you wouldn’t really get it. But someday when I look back on it, I will. 

People are still wonderful. God is still in His heaven. And we’re going to make it through this season.

~Emma ❤

P.S. how is everyone else’s summer?

Catch me around here much

This morning did not look like this. It looked more like the scene in Open Range when the dog swims down the Main Street of the town.

Morning. My mom wakes me up, I yank on my clothes and stumble through brushing my teeth and try to make it down to the stand by 7. The others roll in, we load up yesterday’s empty flats and drive out, arriving at the patch around 7:30. We pick till around noon – or whenever we fill our order, or my mom calls us to come back.

Afternoon. I worked the counter. It’s not my favorite, but I can do it, and sometimes finding out that you can do the things you don’t like is cooler than sticking with the things you do like.

Evening: clean laundry and supper and maybe I’ll have time to read some of Rory Feek’s book. Also my feet smell terrible. Reminder: do not wear wet socks all day.

19 You and Me – Dan + Shay

Catch Me Around Here – Eric Church


red shoes + writing checks

I try to be a professional person. Meaning on a good day, I will have brushed my hair, I will answer the phone at our stand and answer people’s questions efficiently, I will not speak in my stuffed animal’s voice to my mother while we’re in public (you wouldn’t believe how hard this is), and I will not pay for my weekly $25 of gasoline in all ones. Needless to say I don’t always succeed with all of these, but it gives me something to work towards. I absolutely love the feeling of taking control, knowing what I’m doing, and doing it well. When I was a waitress I never felt that way. Doing what I do in the summer, my confidence is built up.

This morning in the strawberry patch, after one of my cousins asked me a question, one of the other pickers who was observing looked up at me and said, “You must be the boss.”

“Not really,” I laughed. I mean, I’m really not. My mom is the boss. The Amish guy who runs the strawberry patch is the boss. I don’t have any authority, or I didn’t think I did. And yet I’m the one who gives orders without worrying about it, who drives the truck, and I’m the one who writes the check. I don’t know why. But I like this role I’m in; I like it a lot.

This afternoon I decided to take some of that deep desire to be professional and grown up and use it to tidy up my awful messy desk area. The plain fact of the matter is I have too much junk. Or too much paper. (I have this writing problem…) In trying to be office-like and pristine, I threw a bunch of stuff away, while my sister sits at her desk next to mine and counts her stash of greenbacks after just getting paid. This starts me to thinking, maybe I should keep my money in something besides the plastic mug it’s in…like the bank, for instance. Maybe a good idea? But I wouldn’t want to go too far just yet with this professional stuff.

P.S. I got new shoes for Colorado, which we’re convinced was a good idea since the only things I’ve been wearing are my cowboy boots or nothing. They’re the nicest shoes I’ve ever had, and I think maybe I’ll write a song about them.

~Emma ❤

(I realize I forgot to title my blog post last night…that might say something for my mental state. Don’t worry guys. I got a full seven hours in last night….if you don’t count all the times my cat woke me up scratching on the door to get in and out. But why am I telling you all this?)

I may not be able to play baseball but I can darn sure back up a pickup.

How does literally everyone in this county know everyone else?

Brad Paisley has a new single – “last time for everything” and I’m gonna go cry now.

I drove home on a totally empty gas tank and it was so cool I think I might try it again tomorrow (jk not worth it)

I’m eighteen but in my heart, when I’m swinging on a swing set pumping my legs or when I’m lying in the grass, I’m ten, nine, eight. A kid again and there’s nothing I fear but when somebody tells me it’s time to leave. Only now I have the keys.

…But really He’s the one in control.


that’s what I’m doing these days

I am a slacker. Emma = slacker. The days are all rolling together and I’m kind of lost. Is this Wednesday? I’m seeing strawberries every time I close my eyes at night. It’s like this – I’m so tired that every time the thought crosses my mind, “oh, I haven’t written a blog post in days!” it’s immediately followed with, “but I’m so busy and no one wants to read about my life anyway.” (A sad delusion every writer falls prey to at times.) I would have posted something last night but when I finally yanked out the computer and sat down to do it I realized the internet connection in this house lately is pretty sketchy. So I’ll try to get this out there before it goes again….in which case I maybe ought to skip the preliminaries and get to the meat of the matter, huh.

Anyway, hi again friends! Thanks for still being here. 🙂


The Farm*: going on 3 weeks of strawberries. The day has come when I’m sick of picking them. (Actually it came yesterday.) We’ve got raspberries now! The Amish boy who came with them yesterday was terribly adorable. My hands smell strongly of onions and I have four bunnies for sale, so if you want a white bunny come by the stand and I will assess your qualifications for ownership.

The Social Spectrum: I don’t have time. I have a farm. (jk. We still do fun stuff. Last Saturday I went to the races with my cousins and I got in for five dollars less bc of my college ID, and I also got a mouthful of dust. We cheered for #4 because the driver had the same last name as one of our favorite people.)

^^^(This guy had the Dallas Cowboys stars tattooed on both elbows. I know right.)

^^^the squad

The Music End: I’m playing a gig next week on the 4th at an outdoor festival at my aunt’s church. I’m mainly looking forward to the fireworks afterward.

The Spiritual Side: I’m reading Amos in my Bible, because no one ever talks about Amos. (Actually, because I got finished reading Hosea and Joel and saw it and was like, there’s a book called Amos? and then felt bad.) I’d love to tell you what Amos is about but the plain truth is I don’t really know yet. I’ll let you know. Hosea, however, MAN. That’s some serious stuff. I’d love to hear someone preach on Hosea because it confuses the heck out of me, but when I read it I know there are things there that would just blow me away if I knew what they meant. “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” What. Blows me away as it is.
*aka Our Place, which is what I call it to other people, because for some reason it sounds goofy to say ‘our farm’ or ‘the farm’ or ‘oh yeah, I live on a farm’. Because I don’t really live on a farm, we just have a farm, and it’s more like a little market. Around here ‘farm’ means cows and liquid manure and we don’t have any of that going on.


I’d better get back at it. I can’t promise I’ll do better but I’ll at least try to think of more interesting things to write. (Like the rate of precipitation in western New York State and how many You know what I miss? Being fourteen and sitting in the hayloft reading a book. I haven’t read anything in weeks. I’d love just for one hour to sit down and read a book like I used to without thinking about all the other things need doing. Oh well.

Go to bed, dream of you – that’s what I’m doing these days.   ~ Rascall Flatts

~Emma ❤

Joey + Rory – Everything that Glitters

Kip Moore – Girls Like You (I can’t remember if I mentioned this before but it’s MY NEW FAVORITE SONG.)