By Dave Peyton 2001

Once in awhile, I find something that reminds me of why I continue to live here. This week, it was a double whammy -- spring and Emma Metz.

I found Emma on the Internet. Her story was brought to the world through the good work of Bob Weaver, the publisher of The Hur Herald at http://www.hurherald.com, an online newspaper that originates from Calhoun County, W.Va.

Weaver's online publication is a labor of love. He writes the news from the tiny county in central West Virginia, and seeks out stories about real people. In fact, his online newspaper reminds me of the late Jim Comstock's famed weekly, the West Virginia Hillbilly.

Emma Metz is the subject of one of Weaver's profiles.

The article begins:

"Standing in a field of daffodils, 77-year-old Emma Metz told about making it on her own all her life."

Weaver's pictures shows Emma standing in a field of daffodils, part of the thousands she has planted on her 91 acres on the right fork of Crummies Creek.

Emma is an "original." I got that term from the late Jesse Stuart, the great Greenup County, Ky., writer who spent his life writing stories about "originals," the people of this region who are relatively unaffected by world events and happy about their isolation.

Emma choses her lifestyle apart from the world without complaint. In fact, she rejoices in it.

She was born in the remote hollow where she lives. During the Great Depression, she received machinist training under the National Youth Administration at Arthurdale, W.Va., in Preston County. She worked in Springfield, Mass., and later in Ohio during the World War II years.

But she couldn't wait to move back home. And she did. She has neither electricity nor a telephone. She doesn't listen to the radio. She doesn't have a mailbox. She says she doesn't need one.

"I turned down government help several times. They seemed to have too many rules for signing up," she says.

She does get help from neighbors and she's appreciative.

"I do need some help sometimes," she says. "I get around pretty slow on some days."

Emma is content about where she lives and how she lives. But what impresses me most about her is her belief in and understanding of God.

"You know God is truth," she says. "A belief in God is a journey about which you understand a little."

That's what makes Emma and the thousands of "originals" like her in our hills and hollows special. They've learned the truth about themselves and where they live. But they know that what they've learned is only the beginning.

Without people such as Emma Metz and without spring, this would simply be another ho-hum place to live. But because of them, this is an extraordinarily vibrant, perhaps electrifying, place to be, especially in mid-April.

Meanwhile the message of spring in the mountains and lessons learned from the "originals" such as Emma Metz carry some of us through the remainder of the year and give us strength to join her in the journey about which we "understand a little."

Dave Peyton is a retired columnist for The Herald- Dispatch.