Monday, October 31, 2016

hallowe'en and closing time

   Howdy! Happy Hallowe'en! If you're wondering why I've got an apostrophe in there, it's because that's how Tasha Tudor spells it, so that's how I'm gonna spell it.

     I know a lot of Christians don't celebrate Hallowe'en because of all its evil connotations, but I personally think Hallowe'en is great. I'll probably never outgrow the excitement of dressing up in costume. I have tons of fond memories of traipsing around the neighborhood in the most horrible of weather, dressed up in everything from a bathrobe to a dust ruffle (no kidding) ringing people's doorbells and giving out bags of apples. Some years it was so cold and muddy and rainy it was plainly miserable. So why did we do it? Because it was fun. And we were kids and that's what you do when you're a kid. And then we got to come back home and put on pajamas and eat chicken soup and watch creepy black-and-white screwball comedies. :-)

     Yeah, I like Hallowe'en. Evil and the appearance of evil are bad, I know, but Hallowe'en is like a bonfire -- it's totally fine if you keep it contained.

     Another reason I like Hallowe'en? Our family business closes for the year, and we can all go home and sit by the fire.

     That's the way it goes -- June through October every year our lives are a circus, running the business (known as 'the stand') and trying to keep up with everything besides. That's the way it's always been for me. We work hard all summer and then October comes, and my mom starts counting down the days until Hallowe'en, and then -- oh joy! -- we get to take down the OPEN flags for the last time, switch off the lights, close the doors, and go home to celebrate living through yet another season. It's really great.

     My mom said to my dad, "What do other people do to experience this unbridled joy? We get to close the stand every October, but how to other people know what it's like to be this excited?"

     It's been a good year. A very hard year, for me, but that's mainly because of my own silly emotional teenage-girl issues which absolutely nobody wants to hear about. The amazing thing is, as hard as it's been, and as many times as I felt like I was so tired I couldn't keep up, and as many times as I felt so badly about myself that I didn't even want to was all really good. It was all experience. My family stuck together. I learned how to live a little better and I stopped brushing my hair. I loved the land even more and realized I always want to do this -- this farming thing, I mean. For me it's in my blood. Maybe that's how my Daddy felt, why he took over the farm. Anyways.

     When I think of this year I'll think of driving the red truck and picking pumpkins and going to get raspberries with Sadie and listening to Joey+Rory and talking waaaaaaay too much about trucks with my cousin Henry and eating grape stix at closing.


     It's a good day. :-) Hey, whatever you're doing for Hallowe'en, I hope y'all have fun!


     P.S. Now there won't be all that work to do I'm gonna have to find something to keep me out of trouble all winter....

Sunday, October 23, 2016

the schoolhouse at the crossroads

     I drive a lot. Ever since I got my license last February, I've been driving everywhere and it was kind of absurd at first, but now it's completely normal. Driving is one of my most favorite things to do, believe it or not. That's what Emma does; she drives.

     Emma also has a tendency to get lost.

     Not lost-lost, as in I don't know where I'm going, but lost as in I don't know where I am, exactly, in relation to anything else in the world. These situations seem to happen increasingly often. The first being on my birthday, when my mom and sister and I took an alternate route home to look at some different scenery and somehow ended up at something called the Little Bone Run Cemetery (and if that doesn't freak you out, you obviously haven't seen it). Then there was the time we were driving with my friend Naomi and Sadie told me to take a wrong turn like she sometimes does, and we ended up on a dirt road in some kind of Amish heaven. (That was beautiful.) Then there was yesterday....but let me back up and tell the beginning of the story.

      Sadie and I were playing for a wedding. That is, she played in a trio and I sang a song, half a song really, and spent the rest of the ceremony sitting there awkwardly spying on people...ahem. The bride was from an old blue-blooded family and the wedding was held in their barn at their home on the top of a hill in a nearby farming town. (I may mention that this family is the most aesthetically pleasing and obviously wealthy I have ever come across in my travels across our county.) There's something strange about being a fly on the wall at the wedding of somebody you don't even know...actually there's a lot of things strange about it, or maybe I'm just strange? It's extremely interesting, but at the same time you feel like you shouldn't be there. Anyway, The Wedding was beautiful. Still, Sadie and I were glad to get out of there once our job was done, and we hustled back to our car breathing sighs of relief.

    Their home is on a dirt road. The other half loomed ahead, unexplored. "Want to see where this ends up?" Sadie said.

    What did I tell you? We're really good at getting lost.

    We followed the road, over hill and dale, what looked like it must be the very top of the world, and I almost hit a dog, and that was scary, and we went down the hill, and came to a crossroads, and here's what we found:

     Hudson Corners School -- est. 1857

     We drove by and I stopped the car, backed up, and opened the door to get out. "I'm taking a picture," I said.

    It's a tiny white building on the corner where two dirt roads cross each other, nestled in a gathering of trees, with piles of assorted junk and a dilapidated tractor loitering off to the side. The outside is half painted, somebody must have started it and then given up.

     This little guy has been sitting here a long time. 1857 -- he's seen the start of the Civil War and he's seen the end of it. He's seen this part of the state go from no man's land to a place on the map, even if it's just a tiny dot. He's probably seen dozens of school children tumble though his door, stomp snow off their boots, sit down at their desks to learn their lessons while a long-skirted, high-collared teacher writes spelling words in cursive on the blackboard. I'll bet you he;s seen many a school picnic on his lawn and maybe even a few lovers' trysts in the trees behind. And when the school closed someone probably lived in him for awhile, until they threw in the towel and left before they got the painting done.

    Have you ever seen an old building and instantly felt transported back to some other place in time?

    I wish those walls could talk so they could tell me all they've seen and lived through in 159 years, and I wish I could write it into a story. I think, in a way, houses do talk. Don't they? Aren't they like people? Don't they have personalities of their own?

    Maybe the schoolhouse could have told me something, if I'd stayed and been brave enough to go try the door...though when you've read as many Nancy Drew books as I have that's kind of a scary though. But I couldn't stick around. I had to get home. So I settled for a picture, got back in the car, and we drove off, and that schoolhouse is going to keep on sitting there waiting for the next person to come along.

     I thought it was neat. I intend to write a story about it someday. :-)


    P.S. We did make it home, by the way.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Howdy-hey and welcome to Sugar Mountain.


        My name's Emma. If I'm not barefoot, I'm wearing cowboy boots. But I'm not a cowgirl, though I'd like to be. I'd also like to be beautiful and have a huge vocabulary and make people laugh. Sometimes I pretend I'm Miranda Lambert. (But I'm not.) Really, what I am is just a normal person who listens to too much country music.

     I was born in a little brown house. My mama already had one girl; I was the second. Another one would come two years later. I came into the world on a cold February day, and my daddy said, "Hello, Emma."

     I remember being seven and sitting up late nights at my desk with a light and a silly feather pen, writing stories as fast as they came to me. Once I read one of them at a gathering at my grandparents' house and my cousin laughed. (I did not appreciate it.)

     I grew up fairly unusual. Homeschooled, for one thing, and I'll let you make your own assumptions about that. (They're probably 50% correct.) There were good times and not-so-good and they almost all involved cousins and popcorn and old TV shows.

     I've made it to seventeen okay. These days I still live in the same brown house, on the same small farm with the yellow barn and the stand on the corner that my family runs. These days I listen to country music and work with my family. These days, I make plans and concoct schemes and do slightly illegal things from time to time and get away with them. These days I am grateful for my friends and I usually learn from my mistakes and I try to keep out of trouble.

    Telling stories is one of my favorite things in the world. I've blogged before, for a sizable chunk of my life, but that saw its day and we said goodbye to that chapter. But after knowing what it's like to have my words read by people, I'm missing it, and that's why I feel like it's time to start a new one. A new chapter, I mean. A new blog. So I can tell you stories. :-)

    This blog isn't about me. Well, sort of. (I talk about myself a lot, I guess. I try not to.) I just like to write. I can't keep it all inside. Mostly I write about things I know and love, which are my family and my Lord and my home, here on the stateline of New York and Pennsylvania where there are dirt roads and Amish and cornfields and hot redneck boys who drive loud trucks.

    So, if you like, stick around and I'll tell you stories.

     Welcome to Sugar Mountain!