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They followed the river downstream. Another parcel, some loam, some sandy soil, more yellow dirt on the hillside, sparse trees, minimal flatland at the river.

 

“Fifty-five acres, eighty five dollars, one more parcel before the Juliand place Mr. Birdsall.”

 

It was late afternoon when they reached the third parcel. Grandfather had never before seen a piece of land like this. Every single acre had either a small hill or valley. It was as if God had played a trick on the earth. The hills were more like knolls, twenty or thirty feet high, and the valleys in between held no water. The trees appeared stunted except for those at the riverside. There, the butternut and the sycamore trees were large and healthy.

 

Grandfather walked around this parcel and again dug with the heel of his boot. Sand! He dug again in the same spot but deeper this time. More sand! He repeated the process at the top of the knolls, half way down the knolls, and again at the bottom. Always the same; either sand or gravel or a mixture of the two. A final sample was taken along the river flats. He was surprised at the dark loam that he had kicked up. Taking a substantial stick he dug a little deeper; more dark loam.

 

“An interesting piece of land but what kind of crop yield would I get?” Grandfather asked himself out loud.

 

Esquire Garnsey answered the question that had not been directed at him. “Sufficient, Mr. Birdsall, sufficient. Mr. Ketchum on the other side of the river purchased a similar piece of land and he makes ends meet.”

 

After a short period of silence the Esquire boomed out with his usual closing remarks on acreage and price.

 

“One hundred acres, one hundred and ninety dollars Mr. Birdsall.”

 

Grandfather had serious misgivings about the lack of trees or other building materials. His knowledge of this type of land was so severely limited that he felt uncomfortable about it.

 

© wtomosky

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