Our country church has a tradition of hosting a hayride followed by a meal in the fall. Yesterday we enjoyed a beautiful fall afternoon tour of the countryside on a hay rack with hay bales for our seats and plenty of blankets to keep us warm.We filled the hayrack and the back of the truck that pulled us with people.
It has been a few years since I had gone on a hayride but I was quickly reminded that hayrides are always fun! It was a multigenerational hayride with kids from age two to senior citizens. We took our two youngest grandchildren along for the experience: Graham 6 and Piper 3. Those two had taken a tractor/wagon ride in an apple orchard before but they were intrigued none the less. They were anxious to see where we were going and what we would see as we wound our way along the gravel roads of rural Marshall County.
As the ride began, everyone adjusted to the hay bale seats and the fresh air that cooled us. The early part of our trail took us along a curvy road, under trees and past farm homes and fields. We saw sheep enjoying the recently picked corn fields and farm dogs chasing along our tires. We drove under tree-draped roads and smelled the freshness of overturned soil and crunchy falling leaves. We drove through Grammar Grove, feeling sheltered by trees overhead. We looked through tall barren branches to see the beautiful blue of the sky. We saw the quarter-moon hanging high in the southern sky and watched flocks of birds dipping and diving over the harvested fields.
The next trail took us down a dead end road, into a forest reserve along the Iowa river. The wagon brushed through the tall grasses along the narrow dirt path that soon became muddy and puddle-covered. The hayrack wobbled and creaked as it moved through the mud holes and splashed through the water. We all swayed back and forth with the movement and tried to stabilize the hayrack by leaning. The grandchildren's eyes became wide as they wondered if we were going to get stuck or tip over. Our awesome tour guide driver reached the end of the road and aptly navigated the truck and hay wagon in a circle to lead us out the way we came. The setting sun lit up the golden maples and oaks that still had leaves so they exploded with warm color against the sky.
The laughter and chatter echoed out into the wilderness air as we reversed our path and returned to the church. Dusk was falling quickly as the first evening of the end of daylight savings time was upon us. The moon sliver became brighter and brighter against the dark sky until we unloaded at the church, just before darkness engulfed the countryside.
"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all," (2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV).