Jacob pulled out onto the road, heading home from the school he had attended for two years. His finals were over, and his time with the school was over. It’s time to move on. He thought, slightly sad, but mostly optimistic, full of hope for what the future held. As he drove down that familiar country lane everything seemed more real than ever before. The trees blossomed with flowers that looked like sprinkled snow. The green hills rolled out into the horizon. Birds flew above the treetops. And everything felt alive.
Jacob smiled as he admired how the sun filtered through the forest canopy to shower the leaf-strewn ground with its disco-like glow. Much of the drive went by in this manner as Jacob surveyed God’s vast creation, alive in the throes of spring, for this last time. Though he couldn’t be sure, he doubted England would offer as much. Jacob returned his full attention to the road, steeling himself for the future. He quickly went through the list of things he needed to make sure he brought with him before the rest of his luggage would arrive.
In the midst of this dull must, Jacob spotted out of the corner of his eye the quaint farmhouse on the hill, and the lake in the valley. It was still a good fifty yards up ahead on the road, but Jacob recognized it immediately. Every morning for two years he had driven past this farm, and every morning for two years he had seen the most beautiful sunrise that all of prairie country had to offer. Maybe it was the way a big, bright, red Sun glinted off the water, spraying the whole field in golden light, or the way the clouds always seemed to part just right. Whatever it was, Jacob had known for a long time that there was magic in that field. There was magic in the early morning at sunrise.
And so Jacob did something spontaneous, something erratic. He turned left onto the same gravel road he had driven past for two years. He turned onto the same gravel road that led up to the quaint white farmhouse that looked over the field with the lake in it. He turned on, and he drove up. Though Jacob did not know what his hands did, nor his feet which lent will to his vehicle, he waited and watched. With nervous trepidation, he watched as he parked beside the same, quaint farmhouse he had only ever seen from a distance. The same farmhouse with window sills in which rested beautiful purple and white lilies. The same farmhouse with a straw welcome mat, inviting all in, and none away. The same farmhouse, with an old wooden door, a knocker well worn, a sign bearing the words, Crawford Farm, and a knob bespeaking years of good use.
Now, Jacob found himself standing on the same welcome mat practically begging him to knock, with a heart oddly calm, practically begging him to stop and go on, but with a head, practically screaming at him to run. The young man of twenty raised his hand, slowly and somehow surely, masterfully hiding the inner conflict within, and grasped with knocker upon the door, feeling the cool, soft brass melt into his hand before he faintly heard a rap echo from the door.
Once more, he stood on the welcome mat with his hands to his side, waiting for someone or something. He heard a voice in the house first, one of an old lady, followed by footsteps on the wooden floor, and the door was suddenly opened. There was no pause to look through the windows, to see who waited. There was no fear of the unknown, to keep the suspense from ending. In a moment the door swung wide, and a merry old lady stood there.
Jacob watched from a distance as words came from his mouth, clear and strong, “Good day ma’am. I’m so sorry to bother you. I just wanted to thank you.” The old woman looking slightly puzzled, bearing a broad smile, although now mixed with eyebrows furrowed.
“I am sorry, young man. I don’t know if I recognize you.” The old woman said in the kindest way possible.
“Oh, I doubt we would have ever met before, which must make my being here all the stranger for it. My name is Jacob Strodden.” The Mrs. Crawford continued to watch, wondering where the young man was going with this. “I know this will sound very strange, so I will just say this if you will indulge me, and then I will wish you a good day and be on my way. For two years now I have driven past your house, and the lake in the field every morning, just at sunrise, on my way to the college down the road.” Jacob pointed towards the lake, as he said this, “And for those two years I have had the pleasure of seeing the sun rise over that lake, and it is a more beautiful sight than few I have ever seen. Today I am moving, and so, it is the last time that I will probably ever see the sun rise over the lake. Which is why I am here. I wanted to thank you. I wanted to thank you for the beautiful lake in the field.
“Not once did I ever drive by and see it in shambles, nor the weeds overgrown. No, every time I drove by I saw a picture of the prairie. A picture of the prairie I will keep with me throughout my life wherever I should go.” When he finished speaking he noticed the old woman’s eyes glistened, and a warm smile, friendly and inviting, crept across her face.
Part two will be out on Sunday!