The Vine, Winter 2024

Having been a professional land surveyor for over 50 years, I know how important it is that modern surveyors follow the footsteps of the original surveyor. It is the basic legal principle that directs us.

handwritten recipe for molasses cookies
Mom’s recipe for molasses cookies. Photo courtesy Rod Michael.

We are professional sleuths, weighing all the evidence, knowing that our job is to find the monuments — or boundary markers — set by the original surveyor. We are constantly charged with making difficult choices and decisions. If we do not get the lines put back in the original location, our mistake may lead to arguments and possibly even a lawsuit. We must be good communicators with our clients, so they understand all the elements that go into a proper retracement survey. There have been so many times when I wished I could have seen the footsteps and footprints of the original surveyor, but we are only left with the legal writings and maps in the county clerk’s office or state archives to guide us.

I was on vacation a few years ago taking a power walk down the beach and upon my return I could not find my footprints. They had been washed away. I asked myself, “Is this it? Is this the story of my life?” It got me thinking about what I am leaving behind. On a professional level, my maps are filed in the county clerk’s office for eternity. On a personal level, I’ll leave behind my words and actions. I hate to say it, but not even those can fill someone’s heart when they really need to feel one’s presence. 

I have some special photographs of my mom that I love to look at on occasion, just to tell her “I love you.” I will even look at her handwritten recipes, old Christmas cards and birthday cards, to feel a little closer. These are the footprints that I believe we all need. When I can touch something that they touched, it is almost as good as a hug. Years ago, I decided to keep a small handwritten money envelope from my father that said “Happy Xmas,” and was signed “Dad.” I look at it once a week. The deeper the love given, the larger the footprints left behind. 

We are all authors. If we cannot say “I love you” out loud, we should write it down. Send a card, pass a note or leave a voicemail. I think the deepest footprints would be made by telling the people in your life right now how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Do not wait until they cannot hear you or see you. Love is in acts of patience, kindness and advocacy for another. It leaves behind a warmth in one’s heart that will resonate forever. Leave behind as many footprints as you can. I do not plan on washing the floor anytime soon. 

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “There is no remedy for love but to love more.”

Top image: Main photo courtesy Rod Michael; background photo stack iStockphoto.com/Tolga TEZCAN.


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