**This piece was submitted as part of our Community Contributor series.
By Erinn Williams / OC Monitor Community Contributor
Dear Ohio County,
Don’t sell yourself short.
You see, I’m an outsider, a hillbilly at best. I was uprooted from a comfortable world of neighbors, Sunday dinners after church, and folks who wave when you pass by. I was dropped in a desolate corn field, flat land as far as the eye can see. I married a boy from Leburn, Ky., who brought me to farm country, and as his wife, I obliged. Lord knows I’d pack up and leave for Japan if he asked, I’m pretty fond of him.
But Ohio county, please, please know this, you have, in part, healed me. I wasn’t ready for a busy river town, or strangers in the supermarket, or burgoo. You see I’ve grieved for land, and familiar faces, and red back church hymnals. When I need to slow down, you are always waiting.
You’re like a familiar drive on a rainy afternoon while sipping hot coffee at my leisure. So, don’t you dare count yourself out, or sell yourself short, you are a treasure.
I find solace on a ridge nestled in your country side. I’ve been gifted canned peaches, warm hugs, and often sit a spell and talk. I’ve been trusted with a key to the home of a little boy from Rosine who changed the world, all within your borders. Your rolling hills give me peace and your hospitality mimic the hollers of home.
In fact, I’m pretty sure, despite being raised in the mountains of the east, a part of me belongs in Beaver Dam, Hartford, or Horse Branch.
Ohio County, you are not boastful, or prideful, or shiny. No, you’re as timeless as the first fresh snow of winter. You linger bitter sweetly like the last tiger lily of June. I thank you for your genuine spirit. I thank you for your farms, your creeks, and for all the strangers who I wave at. Truthfully, they aren’t strangers at all, they wave back.
May you never find yourself discouraged, don’t underestimate how special you are. My heart is full, and my cup overflows. Thank you, thank you a million times over. Each foggy Saturday morning I’m blessed to swing on a porch in Jerusalem Ridge, is a gift.
When I watch the wind blow over your fields I am reminded of the presence of an almighty God. He places us exactly where we’re supposed to be, in precisely the right season.
There is joy in Ohio County, I’m so grateful I found it.
A humble admirer
Erinn Williams hails from Whitley County in the heart of Southeastern Kentucky, and now resides in Owensboro with her husband, Seth. She is an Elementary Education major, working this fall in the Daviess County Public Schools as a preschool educator. Erinn is actively involved as a volunteer for the Bill Monroe Foundation at the Bill Monroe Homeplace in Rosine and recently served as the Kids Zone Coordinator for ROMP in Owensboro. Bluegrass runs deep within her roots, as she comes from a long line of musicians, and is an aspiring mandolin player. She is active in her church and in the recovery community. Erinn loves the outdoors, traveling with her husband, cooking, and appreciates a fresh glass of lemonade. She has a passion for writing, spreading hope through her faith, and being with family and friends.