The value of things

Rappahannock News - - EDITORIAL & OPINION - CLARK HOL­LOW RAM­BLINGS Richard Brady 675-3754 morelchase­[email protected] gmail.com

I had an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence the other day. I was mow­ing the lawn down in the front, next to the road. A car pulled in the drive­way. A lady got out with some pa­pers in her hand, look­ing a bit ten­ta­tive. I cut the mower off and walked over to where she stood. She asked me if I was Richard Brady and if I owned a piece of prop­erty on such-and­such road. I said I was guilty on both counts. She said she wanted to buy the prop­erty. I told her it was not for sale.

She smiled and asked me some ques­tions about how I used the prop­erty and a few other things. She had been to the county clerk’s of­fice and had a print­out of the lots in the area, their acreage and other in­for­ma­tion. I told her that I might be able to help her, that I knew of some prop­er­ties that might be pur­chased. She smiled again and po­litely said, sir, you don’t un­der­stand, I want

this piece of prop­erty. I smiled and po­litely said, ma’am, you don’t un­der­stand, this piece is not for sale.

To make a long story short, since it is fairly repet­i­tive, she left me with a piece of pa­per with two phone num­bers on it and a price that she was will­ing to pay for the prop­erty. I can’t re­ally tell you what mul­ti­ple of the real value of the prop­erty her of­fer rep­re­sented, since I have never put a value on it, be­cause I wasn’t in­ter­ested in sell­ing it, but suf­fice it to say, it was far more than I had ever dreamed any­one would pay for that piece of prop­erty.

She had some par­tic­u­lar rea­sons for want­ing the prop­erty, which don’t add a lot to this story, but she had no per­sonal con­nec­tion to it other than that it just hap­pened to be ex­actly what she was look­ing for.

There is a les­son here, prob­a­bly for me, maybe for you. When I told a few friends about this ex­pe­ri­ence, the ones who didn’t think I was mak­ing this story up, thought I must have been crazy. Why wouldn’t you sell this small piece of land for that amount of money? The an­swer is sim­ple: I wanted this piece of prop­erty when I bought it. It was spe­cial to me. Many years ago, my an­ces­tors lived in the area, and watched the wa­ter tum­ble re­lent­lessly down the lit­tle stream, and awoke each morn­ing to the same view that I now en­joy.

But, they ar­gued, you can buy other land, more acreage, bet­ter ac­cess, more tum­bling waters. But, you see, it would- n’t be that piece of land, which is the piece I have wanted since I was old enough to know about land, and when­ever I got up the courage to skip a day of school, this is where I went. This is where I wanted to be. And I now own that lit­tle piece of land, and, if I sell it, I won’t own it any­more. That sounds like a sim­ple­ton’s tau­tol­ogy, and, of course, it is. But, there is noth­ing as sim­ply true as that.

My bride agreed with my de­ci­sion, and to test our think­ing on the is­sue, we talked to our chil­dren. I think the true mean­ing of “crest­fallen” was in their voices as I re­counted the events lead­ing up to the of­fer.

You see, this is where, in their child­hood, they scooped up sala­man­ders in an old tea strainer. This is where they watched huge batches of frog eggs turn into tad­poles and then into frogs. This is where they learned what a real cop­per­head looks like, and how hard rocks re­ally are. This is where they spent many nights in a sleep­ing bag, on a ply­wood floor, in front of a crude fire­place, in a prim­i­tive dwelling, while crit­ters of ev­ery imag­in­able size scur­ried about, the big ones out­side, the lit­tle ones, in­side.

This is where they learned the mean­ing of hard­scrab­ble. This is where, in the bloom of a showy orchis, they learned how pre­cious and del­i­cate na­ture is, and where they learned, in the af­ter­math of a flood, how un­for­giv­ing na­ture can be. And this will be the place where they will learn, as have I, the true value of things.

Showy orchis photo by Carly Lesser and Art Drauglis via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

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