Birch & Pine is an online journal written and photographed by Kate Oliver. It is an exploration of self from a place of vulnerability and honesty, a discourse of art, interiors, home, travel, literature, and life. 

I knew from a young age that I was meant for more than the small town I was raised in. I worry when I say this that the folks back home will take offense, and I mean no harm in saying it. The majority of the population were farmers, hardworking and kind persons who simply did what generations before them had done. There's something admirable about that, truly, yet my heart was never there. I devoured books with characters who lived on the East Coast, or California, or across oceans, and I began to find myself drawn to places I'd never been and a life I'd never known and hoped I would.

When I was fourteen, I went to the West for the first time, crossing the great Mississippi and rolling through Texas at night, where lightening lit the expansive sky and rain pounded the windows of the van. In the morning, waking to New Mexico, it was as if I'd come home. The colors - oh the colors - the jagged line of mountains and the cracked earth, the dusty sunsets that turned the sky rose and gold and tinged the mountains in purple and then charcoal. I felt worlds away from the lines of corn and soybeans, Friday night football games, and kitchen table gossip and cigarette smoke. I could breathe. And breathe I did. I drank it in as if I'd never see it again, and as the friends I went with worried about who was dating who on the trip, I snuck away to run my hands through the earth, to perch on the worn fence and feel the dry, hot wind in my hair, to dangle my legs off the edge of a mesa, feeling the mist of an approaching storm and the electricity in the air from the hot lightening, the thunder thick and cracking.