Marykate Smith Despres, MA

Senior Writer

Dictating fairy tales and poems to her mom before she could write, Marykate has been making stories for as long as she can remember. She is the Associate Editor at Edible Pioneer Valley Magazine, a regular contributor to WinkBooks, and has written about people, food, and art for various publications, both online and in print. Marykate knits daily, bakes cakes weekly, and grows enormous zucchini and zinnias seasonally. She is also a visual artist who makes everything from sculptures to books to thread drawings.

As a Story Terrace writer, Marykate interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

There Are Waves Here

My neighbors are cows and hay fields and corn rows and, this year, a few acres of squash. Our land is flat – prime pasture for the horses who grazed it years ago – and bleeds back through two farms to the base of the mountains. Across the street, the fields drop off into a short, steep wood and down to a small, clear branch of the river. It is the farthest from the ocean I have ever been, and yet, there are waves here.

I grew up in a neighborhood of summer cottages converted to suburb, houses close enough together to bless your neighbor after they sneeze. At five years old, I would walk five minutes in one direction to cross the highway and go to school, and walk five minutes in the other to skirt the dunes and fish off the rock pier. My canvas sneakers were perpetually damp from climbing down to the tidepools to scoop up bait in my butterfly net.

When I was older, we moved to the “dry side” of the highway, but the water was still never far. As soon as I could drive, the beach was the first and last place I went every day. Surfing summer mornings, swimming summer nights, and sitting in the quiet the rest of the year, reveling in the post-tourist calm and knowing that I’d never leave.

But I did.

First for college, then for love, eventually putting down roots in New England soil because, after all, it is difficult to grow anything in sand.

The trees in my front yard are older than the house I grew up in. There is a permanence here that is not offered on the edge of things, where the land drops off into an ocean so quick. But the wind in the October corn husks is not unlike the rush of the water. And the stars here, these stars. It is as if the entire beach of mussel shell bellies, pearled and glinting from moonlight and the hard rub of growing, has been flipped upside down and hung over the fields for me to remember.


Get in touch today to work with Marykate!