Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Haymaking Day

 Here is a short excerpt from Under the Heavens, a novel about daily life on an Amish farm.

            For some reason, the sky put on a show that evening, like Lenny
had never seen before in his life. A few clouds had moved in from the
west as the sun began to set. The heavens came alive as clouds rose
higher, and everything began to glow in shades of red. At one point, the
whole sky seemed to be on fire. The Horse Boy sat behind his black
team, silhouetted in the foreground of this grand vision.
       “Did you see that?” he asked Leah as her team of mares
passed by.  Leah responded by quoting a verse from Psalm 19, “The
heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his
hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they
display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice
is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the
ends of the world.”
       He didn’t know what to say. He liked the idea of the skies
speaking about God through a peaceful sunset much more than God
speaking for himself through a thunder storm. Lenny was disappointed
when the four Yoder sisters got their hayracks ready to head home.
Before she left, Leah smiled and told Lenny, “I’ll see you on Sunday!”


       When the last hay bale was finally put into the barn, it was
almost dark. A pale pink hue faded behind the barn as everyone
headed up to the house. They stopped under the windmill to wash up at
a hand pump. Sam pumped while Lenny and David stared at the spout
until water gushed out. They took turns drawing water for each other,
until everyone had washed their hands and arms. Lenny could feel
dozens of tiny cuts on his wrists from hay stems. Cold water soothed
those cuts and washed away hay leaves that clung to sweat on his
arms. Once his hands were clean, he cupped a handful to rinse off the
same mixture of hay and sweat from the back of his neck. Rosie and
Ruthie came up by the windmill, and Lenny pumped water for them.
They wanted to rinse off their feet and ankles, having been barefoot all
day. Bob lapped up water that pooled around the pump.
       Before the small group of worn-out young people even got to
the house, Aunt Lydia had come out on the porch with a large
watermelon and a long knife that gleamed in the shadows. She cut big
half-moon slices of melon for everyone. They all sat together slurping
on juicy watermelon and spitting seeds out onto the grass near the
porch; nothing could have tasted better. Lenny had never enjoyed the
cool of the evening and eating watermelon as much as he was at this
       He smiled to himself in the dark, knowing his face went
unseen. He grinned as he remembered what Leah looked like as a little
girl; he also smiled about what she looked like on the swing that
afternoon. He enjoyed sitting there with his cousins, eating popcorn
and watermelon. They sat watching fireflies light up, the way town
people would watch a movie.

Here is a link to Amazon reviews of Under the Heavens

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