Land, Love, Life

Can we halt the destruction that climate change is rendering? Can we reconnect with all others on this globe called Earth, rather than just being connected by thin fiber optic threads? As a cry of a mother for her lost child, a call for transformation has gone out to save Mother Earth. Can she be saved? Some answers to these questions may come from the Homesteaders of the West, our forefathers/​mothers. With the promise of free land, these pioneers are duped into coming to the treeless prairie by the US Government and railroad barons. However, these dreamers overcome the catastrophes of vengeful tornadoes, withering winds, infestations of grasshoppers, and worst of all, conniving, greedy usurpers of the Land. Love of the Land sweeps through historical events with accuracy, passion, and humor.

A mysterious death launches this novel. In 1983 a man is found pinned by a tractor against the wall of a shed on the Schultz Homestead. He was a cheater, a womanizer, not well-liked by most hard-working farmers of eastern Colorado, but smart, successful, and very rich. No clues link his death to anyone, as heavy spring rains destroyed any shoe or tire prints. His brother, the county's sheriff, is mystified. No one notices the shaft of a red arrow, a Cheyenne symbol of revenge, plunged deeply into the wall directly above the man's outstretched arms. Was this an accident, a forgetful lack of setting a brake on the tractor? Or, could the killer have left it? Or, was it placed there when the sod shed was built seven decades earlier.

Successful farming is central to homesteaders suriving on this dry, windy prairie in eastern Colorado. In 1910 the Schultz's, productive farmers from Iowa, leave to start lives anew as Homesteaders on free land in the West. But, they are left destitute when in the spring of the first year, the husband dies in a prairie fire leaving Rose, widowed with three small children. Her 80-year old father, Papa Paul, and an ancient Cheyenne/​Scottish spiritual leader, become lifelong friends as they try to save the Homesteaders. Their mission is to teach about the sacredness of the Land and all things connected to it, all animals, birds, flowers, rain, sky, clouds, and stars. Blessing the Land and practicing sustainable agriculture is their message.

Music connects the family from earlier times, as does the Land. Each generation passes on that gift: John and Will, the singers; Papa Paul, Rose and granddaughter,violinists. Art connects Julie and her mother. Deeply held Christian beliefs blend the families as well. Growing into adults, Will, the reliable son, manages the farm; Julie, the beautiful Danish immigrant, chooses him as her husband over handsome Hank. This triad creates revenge that lasts a lifetime and results in vengeful acts.

Struggles through the Dust Bowl Days strips even Life from the Will's family. With no Land they leave in search of a new beginning in Idaho, as did many others, like the Okies. Their very survival is threatened, so they return home, more destitute than ever before. Son, Earnest, a true believer in love and land, enters the Army during World War II as a special soldier serving on a unique mission in Russia where he sees the Volga Steppes, home of his grandfather, Papa Paul. He now understands the sacredness of land, the breadbasket of Europe. The chilling stories of his survival resonate with other veterans, as Ernest builds his reputation as a leader in sustainable farming.

The novel returns to the mysterious death of the brother; events intensity and a secret is revealed that is so important even the grave cannot contain it. At the end, The Sacred Arrow of the Cheyenne appears in a situation that foreshadows the transformation of Mother Earth.

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