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When breakfast was over Esquire Garnsey excused himself and Grandfather from the table, “We have a lengthy trip today if you do not mind.” They both thanked Mrs. Juliand for another superb meal.


Mr. Juliand offered to walk with them to the carriage house. Samuel had the horses, a day pack and the shovel, ready for the trip. They thanked Mr. Juliand for his hospitality. Grandfather thanked Samuel for caring for their horses.


Mounting up, they rode straight southward along the east bank of the Chenango River. Esquire Garnsey anticipated Grandfather’s question and said “All of this land has been spoken for. When we reach the first open parcel I will inform you.”


The two men traveled about three miles before hitting available land. Grandfather was not taken with what he saw. The hills sloped, once again, right down to the river. He shook his head letting the esquire know that he was not interested. Progressing farther south the hills moved slowly away from the river but the land again became sandy with a lot of gravel mixed in. Grandfather scratched his head in puzzlement after, once again, experiencing this sand and gravel. This strange soil seemed to be normal on each stop for parcel inspections.


The Esquire saw Grandfather’s puzzlement and said “Glaciers, Mr. Birdsall, glaciers.” Grandfather’s puzzled look remained on his face so the Esquire added “The glaciers carved pieces of rock from the hillsides, ground them up into sand, pebbles and round rocks; then deposited it all through this valley.” Grandfather was disheartened at the thought that he had made this arduous trip, from Salem to Hornby, in vain.


Again and again they stopped with much the same results. Sometimes less sand, sometimes with less flat land, sometimes with poor lumber.


“How do you know this is poor lumber Mr. Birdsall?” asked the Esquire after Grandfather had stated so.


“Do you see the holes at ground level, Esquire? That indicates that these trees are growing upon rock. The minerals get pulled up into the tree heart. It causes mineral rot. Soon the heart of the tree starts to rot. The insects move into the tree. The insects make a tiny hole at the base. The heart rot becomes larger. Next come the tiny animals that follow the insects. The hole gets larger. The squirrels then follow the tiny animals and claw at the rot to build nests. Finally the whole tree is hollow and useless. As I said Esquire, poor lumber.”


Esquire Garnsey was running out of parcels and Grandfather was running out of hope. Moving down river they met Abram Storms, the man who brought the millstones from Coxackie. When introduced Grandfather shook his hand vigorously. He told Mr. Storms how much he admired him.


Abram Storms, a rough, tough, yet shy man, looked at the ground and shuffled his feet; uncomfortable with the praise.


Mr. Storms surmised why Esquire Garnsey had brought Grandfather there. “Looking to purchase a parcel Mr. Birdsall?” he asked.


“Yes Mr. Storms. We have visited quite a few and some have almost met my needs.”


Mr. Storms offered some information. “Mr. Birdsall, continue on, there are several pieces of superb options just beyond here.”


The parcel surveyor and the land purveyor paid a pleasant “Goodbye” to Mr. Storms. They remounted, and rode on.


© wtomosky