Prologue – 1988
The old farmhouse was standing still. It had been thirty-seven years since its paint-chipped, cracked walls had heard the voices of children. It had embodied the hopes, dreams, and realities of their life in the small farming community in Saskatchewan. It had never considered abandonment as its future.
August, the youngest son of Gustav and Amelia’s youngest son, worked the farm, which was rich and fertile. But he was neither. August was the only descendant who inherited his grandfather Gustav Warner’s love for the land, and his desire was for a simplistic life of raising a family on the homestead, instead of driving to and from the city every day like he and his father always did as farmers. Because he struggled with reading, writing, and arithmetic, everyone thought that he was slow; his classmates always laughed at him. Many of August’s teachers tried to persuade his parents to send him away to a special school. His parents resisted and encouraged him to work at his own pace. But not even his
parents understood that August never enjoyed living in Melville, where he still dwelt in their basement, and that he was not interested in the fast-paced life of the city, surrounded by people. He was born into the wrong century; he envied his grandparents.
August loved the feel of earth running through his fingers. When fallowing his land, he often stopped the tractor, climbed down, and picked up handfuls of the rich, black soil. He was so similar to Gustav; he had to preserve his grandfather’s legacy. His three older brothers neither cared about farming nor the inevitable fact that ultimately a stranger
would buy the land their grandparents spent a lifetime acquiring. At least Hans Gerhart, his powerful neighbour, would not succeed in buying the Warner farm, which enclosed the best land in the southeast of Saskatchewan.
If only life had not changed so much, if only his father had arranged a marriage for him, as was the custom in his grandfather’s time, then August would have sons and daughters to teach the joys of working with the earth. His wife would teach them to read and write at home and protect them from the lure of city life. But deep down he felt that
this was not to be…