He grips my hand as we step out of the barn. It was another late night milking. Part of getting ready for winter. Using every bit of daylight to do field work.
We’re almost to the house when I feel his tug. I step off the rough rocks of the driveway into soft grass.
“Come on a ride with me,” he whispers into the night air, “it’s such a nice night. It might be the last one before winter, you know.”
So I cast aside my exhaustion and slide onto the back of the four-wheeler, gripping my arms around his waist. My jeans and hooded sweatshirt are plenty warm, even on this November evening.
The sound of the engine is loud in the quiet. I press myself against his back, watching as the ground flashes by. We stop beneath the closest windmill. It is whistling in the breeze. Swishing its way downward then whirling back up.
We leave and I think we are going back home but he passes the house and heads across the highway. Behind the barn we slip to the back fields. Two deer jump out in front of us, startled by our sudden appearance. We laugh under the stars.
The corn looks scant in some places. Deer have eaten their fill. Evidence of a bear still tromps the back corner. “We’ll hopefully get this in tomorrow,” he says to me and I try to not picture a black bear jumping in front of us. The noise would have scared it away. No need to fear.
We pick an ear of corn. It is full and dented. Just right. I grip it in my hand as we head back toward home.
He pulls up beside my truck. “Toss it in,” he directs and I let the corn fly, watching as it disappears into the bed full of identical yellow cobs from the field by the windmill road.
We’re not done. Still more of our 150 acres need to be explored under the bright moonlit sky. We ride the fence line, checking the apple trees to make sure they are picked clean. We talk about our dream sugar-shanty and where we shall build it as we make our way through towering maples.
We ride through the fallow field, the brown grass glowing gold in starlight.
When we finally pull into the front yard, my head resting against his back, I am barely awake.
The milk truck has just arrived to pick up our milk. I listen to the sound of the pump drawing the few thousand pounds of milk into the waiting vehicle.
“Thanks,” he whispers into my hair, “thanks for riding with me.”
I smile. “It was beautiful,” I tell him, my voice heavy with sleep. “Maybe the last one before winter.”