North country residents go out of their way to be kind

Ellen Emery

I have always enjoyed visiting with neighbors, friends and newfound friends especially as we visit over coffee. I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to meet so many extraordinary people, especially through the Massena Observer and now through this column.

The past year with concerns over the novel coronavirus and guidelines for life changing daily so we might all stay well, there were no visits over coffee, no exchanges of friendly conversation in store aisles or time spent sharing the news of the day over coffee. I feel fortunate, though, that connections were made for a coffee hour on Zoom. With the assistance of our son, I was actually able to be connected through Zoom and meet with the most marvelous new friends through internet connections.

“You will be missed,” I was told last week when I was unable to meet with this extraordinary group linked by photos of each one across the screen. Those simple four words meant a great deal. I too missed each one in this group — people from Massena, Wilson Hill, Bangladesh, Rochester, Medina and India.

Yes, this group and the connections made on Zoom were important. But I have missed in-person connections.

As I thought about those four simple words, I knew that was what I should tell each one I have visited with only by telephone, notes and cards shared and texts this past year. Yes, I have “missed you,” I must tell those I once visited with in person.

This past week, there was an invitation for coffee by a woman I had never met. Her voice was familiar, one I had heard as I answered the telephone for The Clockman.

He had worked on a grandfather clock for her, but we had never met. I accepted her invitation — both of us have had our two COVID-19 vaccinations (do you find yourself telling friends now that you have had your shots?). It was time to join another and visit over coffee.

What a beautiful morning. The coffee was delicious, but more importantly the friendships developed were wonderful.

It meant a great deal to visit and share our lives. One sign on the wall of the home I was visiting said simply, “Small blessings make life a joy.”

I smiled as I read it for it was so true on a weekday morning. The blessing of an invitation and shared coffee and the news of our lives and families certainly added joy last week: connections that have been missed.

There was a quick trip Monday morning to Walmart. As I walked down an aisle, a young man smiled — we exchanged greetings and he said questioning, “Mrs. Emery?” I confirmed that I was indeed Mrs. Emery.

He asked about our family, and we visited. I was overjoyed with the greeting and exchange — a time to connect with another. We have learned a great deal this past year about simply appreciating life and those that fill our lives with joy.

How grateful I am this week for an invitation to Wilson Hill for coffee (what an absolutely beautiful setting complete with a ship passing as we enjoyed the sunshine) and for a friendly exchange in a store aisle. Renewed connections with those whom I have missed this past year mean a great deal. How fortunate I am to live in the north country where friends “miss” a time together, invite you to join in sharing coffee and smile with a warm hello each time we meet.


The past few weeks, there have been many interviews with best-selling author James Patterson. He has written a number of books with 425 million of them sold, I read in a printed interview.

Mr. Patterson’s most recent publication was written with former President Bill Clinton, a thriller titled “The President’s Daughter.” As the two dignitaries were being interviewed, Mr. Patterson mentioned that the first novel he wrote had been rejected by 31 publishers. He explained that he didn’t have a “best-seller” until he was 40 years old, although he had written it at the age of 26.

I was amazed when I heard this. I wonder how many of us would continue to pursue the accomplishment of any activity if we had been rejected 31 times.

We can all learn from novelist James Patterson — keep submitting the novel or trying to play a difficult arrangement of a Bach composition or perhaps writing a column! Even with rejections, I am sure your attempt will be successful.


For those of you who read of my gardening attempt last week, my skills have gotten no better. But there was success in the work I did: The beans and corn that I had planted are up! There are tiny green plants actually growing in the rows where I had placed the seeds.

It was fun to hear from many of you, and I am glad I added joy to your life last week — each one who said they had read about my “gardening” all said my planting had made them laugh! Laughter was not exactly the response I was hoping for.

I was hoping readers would see that gardening is a specialized skill that not everyone possesses (with this columnist at the top of that list). I am glad there was laughter, though, which is always a good thing!


“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.”

— Jo Petty

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