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Land, Love, Life
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0578141663, Paperback)This sweeping epic novel set in the 19th and 20th Centuries foretells today's environmental concerns, such as sustainable agricultural and conserving resources, such as water. The narrative begins on March 21st 1983 with a mysterious death of a local farmer, Hank, disliked by most because of his ill-gotten wealth, distrustful poker gambling, and his successful pursuit of all women, married or not. The novel returns to the beginning of the Expanded Homestead Act of 1909 for a Schultz family from Iowa. Two cousins with different motives arrive on the barren, windy, treeless, riverless prairie of northeastern Colorado to claim their Homestead land Spring of 1909. They are ill-prepared to survive on the harsh land even though they were successful farmers on the rich land of Iowa.Upon their arrival they meet an ancient Cheyenne-Scottish spiritual leader called Red Sun in Hair who is willing to help them. This spiritual thread wraps around all the forthcoming events even to the very end of the novel as shown in the appearance of the mysterious Cheyenne arrows. The two cousins of Schultz family are quite different: Gus is seeking a fortune at any cost, while John William desires to raise his family within spiritual connections to God's will. The first year is a trial with meager crops and blizzards while living in dugouts shared with spiders and snakes. In this hole, with only a tarp overhead, the women become pillars of steel, while still longing for their beautiful homes and rich fertile land. Death steps in as John William fights a ferocious prairie fire. Rose, left as a widow with three small children, must become the farmer. Ill-prepared for this role, as she has been a renowned violinist, she sends for her 80-year old widowed father, Papa Paul, known as the Seed Man, is excited to start over. Upon arrival in Colorado he meets a survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre, Red Sun and learns how this half breed saved the firefighters by calling on his Spirit Guides; Red Sun's has special powers. The two wise, old men intertwine their knowledge and their shared beliefs in the sacredness of the land. Their strong beliefs and practices foreshadow the sustainable agriculture of today. Red Hair (also known as Old Timer) teaches them and others the importance of keeping a covenant with God or the Great Spirit by blessing the land each Spring, and Papa Paul teaches the farmers about the power and science of safeguarding the Seed Crops. After Papa's and Red Sun's deaths at age 95, the two sons of Widow Rose make the prairie bloom. Will and his mother continue blessing the land while Hank scoffs at them. Jealousy explodes when both sons fall in love with the beautiful Danish emigrant, Julie, but she loves only one---Will. Embittered by this loss, Hank vows to become the wealthiest man in the county. He marries an equally conniving woman, Penelope, and with dishonest ways spread their holdings far and wide, over planting the land. While evil lurks within them, nature bends the winds; overgrown fields turn to dust, and the great Dust Bowl chokes the prairie; Next the Great Depression begins. Bankrupt Will and Julie with their four children sell their pitiful farm for pennies and head to the West Coast for work like the Joad's in "The Grapes of Wrath". Lodged in a camper's cabin in Idaho, work as fruit pickers is over quickly, so they must return "home" to the windy prairie where the only work is for $5 a week. Depressed, living, again, in a basement, Julie feels the presence of her mother and father, long dead, revives her love of painting. After WWII the country changes; trusted Will becomes the sheriff and uncovers an embezzlement that reveals Hank's evil deeds. The children now grownups achieve life's goals: a renowned violinist; an organic farmer; a nurse practitioner; and, a leader in sustainable agriculture. A surprise ending brings the reader back to the beginning…the mysterious death…and the Spirit of Red Hair again is present.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:00 -0400)
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