The horse, a brown Morgan with a thick black mane, trotted down Musser School Lane, effortlessly pulling the black, box-like buggy. The wheels of the buggy rattled against the macadam, creating a soft metallic humming. The horse jerked its head twice as though wishing the man in the buggy would release the reins, letting it race down the flat road. But, for the moment, the cracked leather reins remained taut and the horse, its mane dancing in the wind with each prance, continued its even pace. The horse’s hooves pounded against the road in rhythm like the soothing ticking of a grandfather’s clock in a quiet house on a Sunday afternoon.
Inside the closed buggy, the driver pulled in the reins, allowing a passing car to speed by. But, even as the car continued down the road, the driver continued his tight hold, urging the horse to the side of the road. The horse reluctantly obeyed the command, gradually slowing down until, at the top of the hill, surrounded by grassy knolls of long, waving brown hay, the buggy stopped with a final, noisy jolt. The man held the reins in one hand, leaning forward and peering out of the small window to take in the majestic scene before him.
The sun illuminated the farm, nestled comfortably in the crescent at the bottom of the hill, in a glorious glow of warmth. Along the hillside, neat and even rows of green corn rippled in harmony like a freshly washed sheet fluttering in a gentle breeze on washing day. The leaves brushed against each other, the music a rustling whisper of a song in the man’s ears. Oblivious to nature’s silent symphony, a scattered herd of cows grazed in the thinning grass around the muddy river that cut through their pasture.
“Thank you, God,” the man murmured softly. Although his prayer lingered in the air, as though unfinished, he continued to pray to his God, expressing his gratitude for the beauty of setting suns, the wealth of ripening corn, and the warmth of coming home.
Shana raised her hand to shield her eyes from the mid-day sun. Her dark eyes traveled down the dusty driveway leading to the large, white farmhouse as she opened her car door and, hesitantly, swung her legs to the ground. A summer breeze, carrying the strong odor of manure, rustled her long brown hair as she got out of the car. For a second, she stretched her back, reaching up with one hand to rub the back of her neck as her dark eyes looked around.
Field equipment, most of it aged and rusty, lay scattered around the outskirts of the driveway. From the pastures, a cow bellowed. The noise broke the silence that engulfed the farm. Two cats lounged in the shade of the large white barn, which desperately needed a fresh coat of paint. The smaller of the cats stretched in the sun before it stood up lazily and began to lick its paw. The other cat lifted its head, noticed the woman standing by the car, and, jumping to its feet, raced alongside the barn before disappearing through the open doorway into the shadows within.
Shana scanned the hillside, the rustle among the cornfield captivating her eyes and ears. The sound, its crisp whistle of tranquility, faintly came and went as the breeze waved back and forth across the field. Leaning against the open car door, she shut her eyes and breathed in the pungent odor of manure. Wrinkling her nose, she kept her eyes shut and listened to the gentle lulling of the cows as they wandered in the fenced-in field between the barn and the corn.