Of Rights and Wrongs

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Published on: Jun. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 21, 2010

Hack Newberry sat on his front porch and looked down the hill. He saw his patch of pumpkins glowing orange in the afternoon light, the last of his summer's garden. He saw how his cornfield had dried with the frost and heard the stalks' harsh rattle.

He saw many things, like the pond he'd put in close to 30 years ago. And the place on the ridge where the spring burbled up from beneath a limestone fault. Hack knew right behind that spring was a place where big whitetail bucks liked to bed. And he knew the limestone made the acorns on that ridge so sweet, squirrels traveled miles each fall to cut them.

Hack knew everything about his farm and that made Hack content. Until he looked down the valley and saw the new houses that had sprung up like morels after a warm spring rain. He frowned, then picked up a ball and tossed it to his dog.

Really, it was none of his concern. As long as they minded their own business ... The thought was left unfinished. As if on cue, a car pulled out of one of the driveways. But instead of heading towards the city, it turned the opposite way.

"Now, what in tarnation?" Hack muttered. Then he remembered the sign he'd posted advertising organically grown pumpkins, "Pick Them Yourself." The little sports car gleamed like a silver bullet as it wound up the gravel road. A trail of dust followed the car into the yard. The driver shut off the engine and got out.

"Good day," she said. "I'm your neighbor, Suellen Ross. I live at the bottom of the hill."

Hack nodded.

"I saw your sign and I was wondering if I might look at your pumpkins." "Sure, follow me," he said. "Had a great crop this year, if I do say so myself. Take your pick. I'll tote them to the shed and weigh them for you."

Suellen saw big pumpkins and small ones. She picked out several and Hack loaded them into a wheelbarrow and trundled back to the house. He pushed hard to get his cargo up the hill and was glad to see the shed loom into view. He wheeled around the back, with Suellen on his heels. He upended the wheelbarrow gently and pumpkins spewed onto the ground.

"Whew," he said, as he mopped his brow. "Ain't quite as young as I used to be." But Suellen,

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