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Rainbow Farm
Childhood Story Returns as a Children's Book
February 12, 2019

I
t was a bedtime story Nicole Edwards’ father imagined decades ago as he tried to lull his daughter to sleep. He only told it once. But images of colorful animals, all displaying the color of the single food they ate, stuck with Nicole, the little girl who wouldn’t sleep.

Now nearly two decades later, Nicole Edwards has turned that story into a children’s book: Rainbow Farm.

Rainbow Farm
Rainbow Farm.

An unattended farm. A young girl looking for a place to rest. And farm animals, strangely colored, left to fend for themselves.

There’s a green dog harvesting – and eating – spinach from the field, a red barn cat with a fondness for beets, and a pig that gifts the young protagonist with his meal of blue corn all coalesced into a children’s story as Nicole found herself working on a real farm, trying to find a new path for her own life.

Nicole sailing
Nicole sailing on Smiths Creek, 2012.
Nicole Edwards spent three years living on a sailboat with her family, from ages 4 to 7, before coming ashore. She and her family are a long-time residents of Oriental. Her mother is a physician. Her father owns Bow to Stern Boating Center, making boating a part of life for all of the family.

Nicole eventually left Oriental for Barnard College, studying foreign affairs and learning to speak Russian. Her degree and language skills opened the door for an internship with the US Embassy in Ukraine.

Nicole said she experienced a process and politics there that left her unsettled. She left, choosing instead to travel through Ukraine (including Chernobyl) to see the country for herself.

She returned stateside, trying out different , including living on a boat again. A life aboard had nostalgic appeal. But she she discovered that’s all it was. “I wanted to go sailing so much because I was homesick for the last 15 years of my life.” She left the boat behind and kept looking.

Rainbow Farm
In the story, a large storm crosses over the farm at night.

On the suggestion of a friend, signed up for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). The program is an exchange connecting volunteers with organic farms in need of labor. Volunteers work for room and board while the farms provide work experience and education on organic farming. Nicole landed on a Georgia farm, spending three months there working the farm and writing and illustrating her father’s long ago bedtime story, turning into her own creation.

In the beginning, she didn’t know it was a story. Nicole said she hadn’t written like this since childhood. The work began as pieces of a memory – fragments of her father’s story mixed with her experiences on the farm. It developed through another new medium – watercolor painting. It was another creative exercise, not intended as a serious endeavor.

Rainbow Farm
A page from Rainbow Farm.

Her efforts came together in the children’s book Rainbow Farm, a metaphorical home created by a collective of distinct characters, each making their own contributions. She added her own elements: a barn, a young man, and a cherry tree.

“What I hope people take away is not to be afraid to be vulnerable and just connect,” Nicole said.

Returning to Oriental, Nicole published the book under a pen name: Colee Demetra. “Colee is a nickname from the farm I was working on this summer,” she said. “Demetra is Greek, and is my middle name (and my mom’s middle name). It is also a derivative of Demeter, who is the Greek goddess of corn and harvest.”

Rainbow Farm
Nicole Edwards, aka Colee Demetra.

You can purchase Rainbow Farm on the publishers website at this link.

Posted Tuesday February 12, 2019 by Allison DeWeese


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