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Heather Gates, Ep. HG 22, Heather Learned More About Other Things Going On In The Valley

Updated on August 7, 2018
Homeplace Series profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

They discussed the future at the Stable

A Mare and Foal at the Stable
A Mare and Foal at the Stable

Break Time at the Stable Brought a Conversation Surprise

It was now Wednesday, December 4, and Jennifer, Bart, and Diane all happened to take their afternoon break at the same time. While they were all in and around the same general area all the time, it was very unusual that they all stopped, together, at the same time, in the same place, the employee lounge area. Diane had been doing an inventory of the tack. With no more trail rides scheduled, she assumed the season was over. Bart had been in the nearby machine shed doing maintenance on harvest equipment. Jennifer had just checked in on a sick calf as Heather arrived on the bus, about to get to work.


After a few moments, Diane got to her favorite question for Jennifer, “How are you and Brian getting along these days?” They tried not to ask too often.


This time, however, Jennifer was ready with a surprise response. “You’ll be happy to know that we are planning to get engaged over the Christmas holiday, possibly get married next summer. How about that?”


Diane sputtered, “Really? Really?”


Bart just smiled, said, “Good for you!” and walked around the table and gave Jennifer a big hug.


Heather just sat, smiled, and watched as the three family members shared a special moment. She recalled in her mind having watched Jennifer and Brian leave the Ice Cream Parlor recently in a particularly happy frame of mind.


By this time, of course, Diane, with tears in her eyes, added, “I am so happy for you. You are both so cool all the time, it is always hard to judge your attitude, or figure out what you are thinking. I guess you were both making more progress than appeared on the surface.”


“Yes, Mom you are right. We had to take the time we each needed to decide if this was the right thing and the right time. It is interesting that spending more time together recently on getting the Society organized has really allowed us to focus on what is important in our lives. Our professions are so important to each of us, but we are also each very ‘old-fashioned and traditional’ when it comes to family matters. That has become clear to both of us. Engagement, marriage and kids seem to follow logically as well as emotionally.”


“Thank you for sharing with us. We’ll keep it to ourselves until you guys feel it is right to make an announcement, right?” Diane was bursting to tell someone, but knew it was not her place.


“Thanks, Mom,” Jennifer replied. “Please do. We’ll try to work that out before too much time passes by.”

Plans were underway to extend the float opportunities on Oak Creek

Floating on the Creek
Floating on the Creek

The Gates Family Gathered at Peter and Shiela’s House on Wednesday Evening

Mr. and Mrs. Grapes had gone back to Oregon early in the week following the holiday weekend. Peter and Paul felt a need to share other Bevins Trust discussions with each other and the rest of the family so as not to get behind on some fast moving activities. After supper, Jeremy went to do some homework he could do on his own while Paul and Heather, Peter and Shiela, Scott and Rachel caught up with each other on the breaking developments. Paul first talked about his discussions with Jonathan Offutt, owner/operator of Oak Creek Outfitters and the proposal by Big Thunder Lodge to install ‘float’ facilities along Oak Creek from clear up at the Lodge, past the Mill, to connect to the kayak and canoe operation below the Mill. Big Thunder was working with the Forest Service on the concept between the Lodge and north of the Mill. They had suggested it might be best to have one concessionaire for the whole project. Since Jonathan had already been operating below the Mill on Oak Creek, would he be interested, was he the right person, to take on the larger project proposed. Paul talked about their recent discussions. The next step was to go up to Big Thunder Lodge. Jonathan had said he wanted to explore that, adding that he had already talked with Harry Flanders, at the bank, and was encouraged to explore the possibilities. Scott and Rachel said they had used the Outfitters a couple of times, and felt they were very good operators, based on that limited exposure. Peter said he knew from word of mouth around the valley that Jonathan had a good reputation based on the few years he had been in business.

They discussed dividing the land for agriculture and conservation lands

Possible Conservation Land
Possible Conservation Land

Peter Shared Some of His Discussions About the McDonald Conservancy Activities

Peter shared that he had recently had meetings with both Bart and Ronny Cox, separately, to discuss the next steps in the planned McDonald Conservancy. Ronny Cox was with the Rolla regional office of the state Department of Natural Resources. Ronny had also been the state representative in talks with Big Thunder Lodge and the National Forest representatives on the ‘float’ project, so it was important to keep everything straight, but every one involved, as well.


With Bart, Peter had reviewed the crop land versus the proposed conservation lands. They had gotten into great detail, which led them to realize there was much more information required to make the appropriate decisions, but that had each enjoyed having those discussions. The conservation land would be transferred from the Bevins Trust over a period of year in order to receive the maximum tax benefits coupled with the optimal opportunity for state, private and federal grants and assistance to enhance the conservation efforts planned and desired. The proper precise pieces of land, based on soil quality and location, would need to be surveyed separately, at some point, so assure the transfers were proper and most useful to all concerned.


With Ronny, and Paul, their discussion revolved around the conservation easements they were already working on with the lawyers and Natural Resources, and seeking to determine what additional environmental impacts they needed to consider and plan for. They had discussed similar considerations being worked on over on the Current River as well as the Jacks Fork River and their other tributaries to be sure they were all following the same rules and processes. Rachel, Sheila and Heather listened in fascination to these various projects being discussed. There was a lot going on around this quiet valley that many people there would never suspect.


[Continued in Episode HG 23]

Author’s Note

This series of stories in the life of Heather Gates, a fictional character in The Homeplace Saga series of family saga, historical fiction stories (home blog found at thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com), is being created as a way to use a minor character in the early writings to expand those stories and share details omitted in those earlier writings within the original overarching themes. These newly included details may have been left out of the earlier stories through editing or they may have seemed unrelated to central themes at the time. With the expansion of the entire Saga, over the years, it has become obvious that filling in some of the gaps in the story for overall better understanding of the individuals, their families, and their interactions would be useful to The Homeplace Saga body of work in total. This episode runs in parallel with the timeline of the “Christmas at the Homeplace” novel. The theme of this novel is ‘coming home for Christmas.’

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer

Video Book Trailer

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      11 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Bill, for your visit and comment. Hope it cools off up your way, soon! ;-)

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      11 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Dora, thank you for your comment. I like that. 'Looking across the fence' - that does seem to be my story-telling approach. I always appreciate your insights! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Hooray for Jennifer! Great news indeed, news which will be celebrated throughout the Valley....hopefully! :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      11 months ago from The Caribbean

      As people and property are added to the plot, the reader gets to enjoy the growth of the community. It's like we're looking across the fence.

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