In Fields of Corn, we meet the Lapp family for the first time. Shana is an Englische woman who rents a small house that’s attached to the mule barn (see below). When she meets the Lapp’s son, Emanuel, both of their lives change.
This book is very special to me. To begin with, the first half of the book is true. This was the story of my own friendship with Emanuel Lapp when I lived at their farm.
Of course, it’s a fictionalized account. While he did court me…taking me for buggy rides and to the festival, visiting with me on my porch at night, teaching me how to drive the horse and buggy…the rest is fiction.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized he had, indeed, been courting me. That was when the “what if…” began to wander through my brain and I decided to write out what might have happened.
The photo is the actual house where I stayed. Today, it’s rented out to another family. But I still go back to visit the Lapp family whenever I am in Lancaster.
Behind her small house in a shed-like barn, a muffled neigh caught her attention. Squinting, she could vaguely see several large mules eating out of the troughs. In the background, two mules nipped at each other and jumped in a semi-playful manner. Curious, Shana walked toward them. The closest mule lifted its massive head and stared at her, its rabbit-like ears twitching nervously. Shana smiled as she dared to reach out and scratch the mule’s forehead. “You’re a big fella, aren’t you?” she murmured.
“You like the animals then?” a low voice said from the shadows behind her.
Startled, Shana whirled around, dropping the grocery bag. The carton of eggs fell out, spilling onto the dirt floor, several of them breaking. Shana knelt to examine the damage. The young man set his pitch fork aside and quickly bent down to assist in the assessment. Shana glanced at him and smiled. “Only three.”
He tilted back the straw hat perched atop his forehead as he met her gaze. “Sorry about frightening you like that.”
They both stood, each quickly surveying the other. Shana wondered if the man before her, with thick curly brown hair and sparkling blue eyes, had been the same man she had watched briefly in the field. His face reminded her of a child, soft and innocent, although the twinkle in his eyes whispered otherwise. His voice, soft and even-toned, had a slight German accent, spoken in the same dialectical slang as Jonas Lapp. She knew at once that he was certainly Jonas’ son.
“I hadn’t seen you standing there,” she said apologetically. While he was short like Jonas, he still towered over her. She couldn’t tell how old he was, possibly eighteen, maybe older.
He plucked a piece of hay from a nearby hay bale and stuck it in his mouth. “You the Englischer that’s moving in?”
The Englischer, she repeated to herself. Then, with a smile, she replied, “My name’s Shana.” She held out her hand.