“Land, boy—land. That’s what it’s all about. If you don’t abuse her, she’ll serve you ‘til the end of your days, and your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will reap the benefits.”
We stood at the crest of the grassy knoll while the rolling meadows of the great prairie spread before us like a green wavy sea. Our covered wagon creaked behind us where Ma was clucking to Rose and Roman as she handled the horses’ reins. I imagined her calloused, rough hands chafing under the thick gloves Pa had fashioned for her. I also knew, instinctively, that seeing us ahead and occasionally checking on baby Gracie in the padded dresser drawer at her back, she was content.
The clear, blue sky stretched over us like a preacher’s blessing, and I reckoned that God had spun the fluffy white clouds into animal shapes just for me . . .
“That were years ago, son, before you was ever thought of, when this land was first tamed. As you can see, your great-granddaddy was right. Just look at ‘er, James. Did ya ever see anything as rich and fertile as this?” the clump of black soil crumbling between his fingers.
The two stood, awestruck, and the father continued to gaze out at the vast acres surrounding their log cabin miles off to the east. It was a mere dot, a spotted brown mushroom nestled in the furrowed landscape. A nostalgic pang pierced through his toughened heart as he remembered the felling of lush green trees to build the house, the lash of its necessity still sharply intense. He was getting old, he surmised, getting all misty-eyed about that. But, this lush valley he stood within, and the encircling forests, glens, hollows and pastures would always serve them well, just as prophesied, evidence of his inherited legacy. He vowed to instill that same value in his sons and daughters, please God.
Three hundred years later, the family dynasty had gradually deserted their heritage, lured to the seductive attraction of bright neon-lighted cities. Little by little, the acres were sold off to greedy land investors who erected massive golf courses, gigantic shopping malls and theme parks. The rape of the land, unavenged, spit upon the graves of those brave pioneers of yesteryear. And it, like the spurned lover it was, grew barren and desolate as the plundering of its riches grew more savage—until it was not recognizable as the flourishing unadulterated acreage it once was.
The family descendants became wealthy with opulence, losing their earthy moral compass in the process, until their ancestors turned over in their graves like whirling dervishes.
Until, one day, a forgotten tiny parcel of the original land was detected when a land developer was denied a permit to build a parking lot there . . .
Roger Bufont had absconded from his parents’ materialism when he went on a pilgrimage to search for truth. In the process of roaming through the jungles of Kenya, he had come across a missionary settlement where he became friends with a pastor who taught him about God. Becoming grounded in the Ultimate Truth of life, Roger returned home to America to tell his family. Unfortunately, his parents had died during his absence. The only heir to their fortune, Roger seemed destined to once again be encumbered with material riches and a lifestyle he had rejected, when,
“Roger Bufont? This is attorney G. R. Duffy. I understand you still hold the deed to a small section of property I would like to purchase.”
After locating the deed, Roger returned to his forefather’s first settlement and a dream—a vision, really—wrapped around his heart as surely as the aboveground tree roots twisted themselves around the boulders where he stood.
Roger Bufont spent most of his inheritance buying out all the owners of surrounding property acres of land that had once belonged to his family, making the owners lavish offers they could not refuse. He then used the remaining funds to strip the land of its structures and buildings, treating the terrain to restore it to the fruitful pasturage it had been formerly.
“Son, this is your heritage, this restoration of our ancestor’s land. Cherish her and she will serve you well.”
The young boy at his side gazed up at the deep blue sky stretching over them like an endless canopy-- dotted with white fluffy clouds forming into animal shapes just for him.
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