Last Sunday, Elaine and I received the 2014 Land Saver Award from the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy at its annual Conservation Celebration. Quite honestly, it was one of the most touching honors we have ever received.
At the event, I was supposed to address the attendees, and I had planned my talk. I was going to talk about how when I was 12, my Grandfather Willie showed me the family farm, now houses in Franklin County, Virginia, and how he cried when he told me how the family had lost the land. "We used to be landed, but we're not anymore," said my grandfather as he was convulsed with tears.
Then I was going to talk about how I promised my grandfather that I would save my money and buy rural property and one day the Ingrams would be "landed" again. That the main reason I became a writer was so that I could have a second job and use the money earned to buy rural land in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia.
Then I was going to thank Elaine for taking care of all the daily chores of shopping for clothes, buying groceries, and taking the cars for inspection and repairs so that I could write and teach school. And last I was going to end up quoting Scarlet O'Hara's father Gerald who said in Gone with the Wind: "The land is the only thing in the world worth working for... because it's the only thing that lasts."
But I only made my way part way through my talk, not even being able to praise my wife for bringing joy into my life and being such a perfect spouse and helpmate, before I broke down in tears. So, Elaine, even though I didn't say those things last Sunday, I will say them now - thanks sweetheart.
If you live in Southwest Virginia and believe in the precious nature of land, here is the conservancy's website for you to learn more: