Reflections and Decisions

“Have these hills always been this beautiful?” wondered Dave as he looked down onto the valley below.

He knew they had. His wonder came as much from years of apparent lack of appreciation for his surroundings as they did from the picturesque scenery itself. As a small scale gentleman farmer in the Appalachian Mountains, Dave had often spend his days toiling over one project of another. There was always something to do on a farm after all, whether it was the beans needing picking, the peaches needing pruning or a horse that needed shoeing. His days often started before sunrise and did not end until well past sunset.

Dave had been doing the chores of a farmer for as long as he could remember. The homestead on which he currently resided with his wife and children was a 200 acre plot that had been passed down through generations of Smith’s dating back to the 1700s when his great-great-great-great-grandfather had carved out a little farmhouse on the mountainside soon after his arrival to the North American continent.

“What are you thinking about?” asked Jill, Dave’s wife, as she walked up to him with a hot cup of coffee and a smile. Jill was an attractive woman in her early 40’s who had been by Dave’s side for all of their adult lives. He was her biggest fan, and her his.

“Who says I’m thinking about anything?” asked Dave with a grin and a wink.

“You can’t fool me, Dear” replied Jill. “I’ve known you much too long for that. Besides, I can never get within 20 feet of you with a cup of coffee without you hounding me for a sip.” She returned his grin and wink, and raised him a playful swat on his backside as he helped to lighten the load of her coffee cup by his designated half.

“I know that’s right baby,” he replied. “ I couldn’t sneak anything past you in I wanted to. You know all my tells.”

“So, care to let me in on what you’re thinking?”

“I was just out here wondering if this valley has always been this beautiful. I mean, look at it, we can see for miles and miles in every direction. I know this sounds crazy, but I feel like I am seeing it for the first time.”

“You don’t sound crazy to me, Honey” replied Jill. “I understand exactly what you are saying. Ever since we got that letter, I’ve been seeing things in a different light as well. That visit with the lawyer definitely confirms that there may be something to this.”

Just last week, Dave had received a letter in the mail from a real estate investment group who had offered to buy his entire 200 acre farm hold for 10,000 per acre. Dave thought that it was a joke, or one of those scams he had seen on dateline. Who would really have $2 million to spend on his little farm. He and his wife and kids were able to scratch out a comfortable enough living on the farm, but no where near that type of money. He thought that with an offer like that, there had to be some type of scam involved. Apparently, he was wrong about that. According to the lawyer who had left his business card with him not 30 minutes earlier, the offer was not a misprint. The lawyer told Dave that his clients were buying up large tracts of land in the area and had plans to turn this area into the next Pigeon Forge. The lawyer ever went as far as to tell Dave that his land holding was pivotal in the plans of the investment group, and without it, they weren’t sure that the project could move forward. He was a nice enough guy, and definitely wasn’t trying to make a hard sell, but this was definitely not the type of decision that Dave and Jill could make without some serious thought.

“You’re right, Darling.” said Dave. “There is no mistaking what Mr. Hart, esquire, was offering us. His clients want our farm. They want everything in this valley. Our church, our kids’ schools, the market, the gas stations; they want it all.”

“Don’t forget our barn, our chicken coupe, our stables, our orchards and our fields,” added Jill.

“I couldn’t forget those if I wanted to,” grinned Dave. “I’ve spent my entire life working them, like my dad before me and his dad before him. That’s all us Smith’s have known to do going back to when Jeremiah Smith first got off the boat.”

“Speaking of which, they want the family burial plot as well, along with the oak tree that has been providing shade to it’s residents for generations,” added Jill glumly.

“That would appear to be a part of the deal, wouldn’t it,” said Dave, thoughtfully. “But they are talking about two million dollars. That’s a fortune. That’s the type of money that would leave us set for a long time.”

“What would we do if we didn’t have this farm to run?” asked Jill.

“I’d sleep in,” said Dave. “I’d sleep until the sunrise woke me up.”

“Liar!” exclaimed Jill. “You couldn’t sleep until the sun rose if your life depended on it. You haven’t had to set an alarm clock in years and you know how restless you were that time when you twisted your ankle and had to stay immobile for a week.”

“That was different,” insisted Dave, “ I was restless because there was work to be done and you and the kids had to pick up my slack. I know I could sleep in if there was a point where we didn’t have things that needed to be done.”

“I guess I’ll just have to take you at your word on that,” said Jill. “So, what else would you do without this farm, besides sleep in? Where would we go? What would we do?”

“With two million dollars, I’d say we could go just about anywhere and do just about anything,” said Dave. “Maybe we could find us another farm for sale. Maybe we could travel the world. We could definitely set up college funds for the kids.”

“You are right about that,” said Jill. “There are a ton of things we could do with that kind of money. Let’s think on it some more.”

“I love the way you think, Sweetheart,” said Dave.

Thinking is exactly what they did after that point. They pulled up chairs and spent the remainder of that day looking out over the valley that had been home to them for generations. They thought of friends and life and change. They thought about how exciting fresh starts could be, as well as how scarey a concept change is. They wondered how their loved ones would feel about selling the homestead. They discussed life, they discussed happiness and they discussed tradition. They thought of the generations that would come after them as well. They thought of the change that would occur in the area if the more commercial crowd moved in. They decided that they would put off making a decision until they had talked more about it. They also wanted to get some feedback from others on what they should do.

So, audience (if there is one), what would you do in their situation? Would you sell the family homestead or would you preserve a way of life? Help Dave and Jill decide what moves to make and what their future holds.

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