Six-year-old Esperanza Ortega walks with her father, Sixto, through the ripe vineyards on their sprawling valley ranch, El Rancho de las Rosas. Sixto tells Esperanza that the valley “breathes and lives,” and that when one lies down on the land, one can feel its heartbeat. At the end of a row of grapes, the two of them lie face-down on a grassy knoll, and Sixto urges Esperanza to be still and patient. After a few moments, Esperanza hears a thud “rushing in her ears.” She smiles at her Papa, and he smiles back, knowing she has felt the earth breathing.
This prologue introduces the respectful and caring relationship between Esperanza and her Papa, and shows the genuine love that both of them have for the earth and the natural world around them.