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40 Acres

January 14, 2021

I had to find something amusing from my past posts to boost my spirits today. Here goes!

Today as I drove back home from another day of fishing, I ventured off the main road to look at some estate homes mostly just to see how the other half lives. The homes were enormous (6,000 to 8,000 square feet) and all neatly perched on large acreages. As I completed my tour and got back on the main road heading for home, I mused with my wife about a dream we once shared: 40 acres.

I was brought up in Southern California but spent most of my youth in the wide open outdoors. Ranches, farms and large tracts of national forests were my playgrounds. However, I lived in a small house that my parents had purchased in the town of San Fernando, California in 1950. Because I spent so much time in the large expanses of the California and Montana wildernesses, my dream in life quickly became to own 40 acres of land. The number I thought was adequate enough to keep the rest of the world at bay. That dream continued for decades, although I always found myself living in small homes in the Californian suburbia.

Years passed and I met my wife. She was from New York City and like me longed for 40 acres. New York and Los Angeles feel like jails to some young people and the both of us felt in many ways like prisoners. After we were married, our homes were always on the edge of open land but never on that magic island of 40 acres. The acreage thing really got into high gear when we started regularly fishing in Montana. We thought we should move there. We looked at many houses, all on large private acreages. In Montana, 40 acres isn’t even really considered acreage; it’s more like a large lot. We almost bought a place with 60 acres near the town of Whitehall back in 2001. But instead, we made an abrupt u-turn and had a house built for us in Northern Italy. Was it on 40 acres? No, no indeed. That much land in Northern Italy would cost about 40 million Euro or about 50 million dollars. That was a tad out of our league. Instead, we settled for a very nice housing arrangement in the Dolomite Alps with a very large garden. The 40 acre thing came up now and then but with less remorse. In the end, we started actually believing that smaller was better.

When we moved back to the United States a couple of years ago, we again looked at properties with acreage. However, all of a sudden, the number 40 seemed a bit too much. How about ten? How about five? In the end, we said yes to the question, “What about one half? What happened? We got a bit older and the thrill of dirt roads and mending fences had staled a bit with age. We were no longer eager to run a spread and we figured we really didn’t need 40 acres to keep out the bad guys. A baseball bat would probably do. So far, we’ve been happy with our new found adjustments.

We still regularly wander the mountains, streams and forests in both Europe and North Carolina. However, now we don’t feel we have to own the land; renting it on a daily basis free of charge is okay by us. We are still children of the great outdoors but when the weather is freezing, we love the comfort of the indoors. So today, as I turned back onto that highway that leads to our home, I looked at my wife and asked with a snort, “Remember when 40 acres is all we wanted?” We laughed together at the mere thought and imagined that our next home would probably include a zero lot line and lots of paid people to run the spread. It’s funny how time changes a person. Some would say we’ve given up. I prefer to think we’ve wised up. 40 acres? Not in this lifetime friend!

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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  1. Reblogged this on Janet's Thread 2 and commented:
    The passage of time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny how things can look so different over time! Hope you’re doing well, Allen.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Il tempo ci fa vedere le cose sotto un diverso punto di vista, non è vero?
    Spero che tu ti stia riprendendo, Allen caro 🧡💜🧡

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wishing you well…I so enjoyed reading this post. I will remember this dream you had of the ‘forty acres’. It is true in life that our dreams do change…:) What seemed so important at one time, is insignificant later. Less becomes more in so many ways as we age.

    Liked by 2 people

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