Miranda Amelia Harden is twelve years old and has lived all her life on her grandfather's mountain ranch. All Miranda wants is to live there, but the rest of the world can't seem to leave her alone. She has only two questions: how young is too young to know what you want? and how young is too young to achieve it?
Tara Carter was worried about the girl, though she knew it was none of her business. "As if I don't have enough troubles of my own", she told herself, but still it just didn't seem right, that girl being all alone up there on the mountain with nothing but her grandfather and that old mare she came in on. Once a month, "regular as sunrise" as she liked to say, here she'd come, riding down into the valley with a few dozen fresh farm eggs, all carefully bunded and stowed, some goat cheese and some bars of homemade goat fudge, and every now and then a jar of fresh clean honey. She'd swing down off the horse and sling that satchel over her shoulder, bring it into Tara's family's little country store and hoist it onto the counter with barely a word, maybe a nod and a grunt as if she were a little cowboy from the movies.
Calvin Harden, Miranda's grandfather, never accepted a dime for these offerings. He felt it was something he owed for the service the store provided of just being there when he needed it, as if his once a month dispatch into the known world was enough to keep it all waiting with endless patience for his trivial little gifts. Tara's parents had been dealing with the man all their lives, so even Tara knew better when she was at the counter than to try and give the girl any cash. Instead they subtly subtracted a few bucks here and there from the running total as the grandfather - or the girl, whoever it was who came shopping if not both - piled up the items they needed. It usually wasn't much, mostly ingredients like flour and sugar and oil and butter and rice and dry beans. They seemed to have everything else they required.