Hello and good day!
A group of children stand over a drainage grate in a park. It is rainy out and all are bundled in wet weather attire, rubber boots and raincoats.Raindrops plunk and splatter on the hoods of their jackets
The children hear water rushing deep beneath the grate and they hear the tinkle of new drops splashing on the current and echoing up.
"Do you hear how the sound of the raindrops echo?" asks one of the children.
"Yeah, each splash sounds like a hundred splashes," says another.
One yells his name into the echo chamber. MICHAEL! Michael! Michael. michael.
Another yells in.
SEAN! Sean! Sean. sean.
MICHELLE! Michelle! Michelle. michelle.
EMILY! Emily! Emily. emily.
They continue yelling until each has taken several turns after which they lose interest and walk away.
A little girl stands in a driveway eating a peach on a beautiful spring day. The long pebble driveway from the house to the road is lined with white narcissuses. Their green stems shoot from the soil in bunches. The petals are snow white and the flowers have small yellow centers.
The girl's auntie brought them from her father's farm when she left home 40 years earlier.There were just a few bulbs in the beginning, but now narcissuses fill the yard.
Forsythia, magnolia, cherry, and apple trees are in bloom.
"Auntie, this peach sure is good. Can I plant the seed?" asks the little girl.
Auntie plants the seed in a flower bed and soon the tree begins to grow.
They take the new tree out and set it in the yard.
The tree grows to be large and robust and has peaches on it every year.
Eventually the little girl grows up and moves away.
Many years later, the tree dies and has to be cut down.
But the roots and the stump are still there.
In her old age, auntie works to revive the tree and eventually sprouts come up again.
The tree begins to grow anew. It blooms and gives fruit for many more years.
Auntie passes, but the peach tree is still there.
A young father in the northern Peruvian mountain town of Chota gathers his family around.
"We will be moving soon," says the father.
Where will we go?" asks the oldest son, a six-year-old.
"Your father has obtained a big piece of land for us," says the mother.
A left leaning military dictator has just dissolved land ownership rights of the few dozen aristocratic families who own most of Peru's productive farmland.
The land is being distributed cheaply to everyday Peruvian citizens.
"Where will we go?" asks the son.
"To the jungle my son. That is where land is the cheapest and most productive. It will be hard. But we have no future here. Here we rent a very poor house and work hard for scraps. There we will be landowners," says the father.
The family bundles their meager belongings and sets off on a 320-mile journey northeast, walking and hitchhiking towards their destination.
They navigate bridgeless rivers on rafts made of driftwood.
The father stands guard while his family sleeps outdoors, shooting his rifle at jaguars and bears that come too close to their camp.
Jungle storms wash away the first several houses they build.
Where they have settled, the wood is not good for construction, and they must learn how to make their own adobe bricks.
50 years later, a grandson of the young father from Chota walks into an association meeting of local cacao farmers.
He sees a well-known government official there.
He walks over to shake the official's hand and meets two gringos she has brought with her.
The gringos and the farmer hit it off immediately and go on to build a successful chocolate business together.
A family of farm children is so poor that they soak kernels of corn in water to make the kernels plump. With swollen kernels, they can trick themselves into feeling fuller.
When the winter cold comes on strong, the children take turns staying up at night, stirring the water so that the kernels won't freeze.
The father of the family is a widower who works odd jobs and uses the money to buy liquor.
He sleeps through most days, recovering from binges.
One of the siblings, a little boy, swears he'll get rich someday.
The boy drops out of school at age 11.
He works from sunup to sundown seven days a week until the age of 33.
He achieves his goal of getting rich.
He spreads the wealth among his siblings and pulls his entire family line out of poverty.
But he works himself to death, having begun the grind too young, and having grinded too hard for too long.
He becomes ill and dies of Hodgkins at age 33 leaving behind a son who promises himself that he'll grow up to be like his dad, except that he will survive and live into old age.
The son pledges to build a family business that he can pass on to his children, as his father would have, if his father had lived longer.
My dad and my brother are the two gringos mentioned above.
The grandson is Noe Vasquez, our long-time business partner and president of the cacao grower's association of the district of Huarango.
We wouldn't be in business right now had my dad and brother not met Noe that fateful day.
We are all living, breathing echos of the past.
We also echo into the future.
It seems to me that it is much easier to comprehend how we came to be than to visualize how what we do now will lead to events yet to come.
However, our inability to guess at how we may impact the coming stream of time doesn't mean that we won't.
It is an absolute certainty that our actions will reverberate and somewhere down the line, how we lived will be the faint echo that somebody else is born into.
Leaving behind a house with white narcissuses along the driveway and a peach tree in the back yard sure seems better than a bare plot of land.
Ok, now that I've managed to completely fry my own brain trying to think this through, I am going to sign off.
Thank you so much for your time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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