Kate has just returned from her retirement party when her sister Emmaline calls with a message from God.According to Emmaline, God wants Kate to return to her childhood home in Bliss County, North Carolina, to become chief caregiver for her 80-something mother Snow and Snow's older sister, Beam. Doubting seriously if the message is actually from God, Kate agrees, nevertheless, to return home for a few weeks to assess the two older women's ability to live alone.
Almost as soon as she is arrives, a neighbor appears with news of unusual behavior on the part of three of the county commissioners. Despite Kate's objections, her mother and aunt jump in to take an active part in uncovering what the commissioners are up to, and set up a local grassroots environmental action group to thwart the county's intention to accept a regional garbage dump in their rural community. As she is drawn into the situation, Kate learns about environmental injustice and begins to realize her own underlying racial prejudices.
When "the nearest thing" she ever had to a boyfriend, an old high-school classmate, begins to show interest in her, Kate is as confused about becoming involved with him as she is about becoming involved in the increasing activism of her mother and aunt. At a public hearing, as the "good ol' boys" of the county attempt to ram the regional dump past the objections of the community, Kate must decide whether to hold on to her dream of living a quiet, uneventful retired life or take a stand and, at 65, open herself to a new world.
This report prepared by Betty Davenport Tesh