The milkhouse window’s glow was something I noticed a few years ago; it’s become an early morning companion.
The glow in that east-facing window first caught my eye when I stepped outside to do a pre-dawn appraisal of the farmyard. Its appearance brought concern about whether I’d left a light on in the milkhouse or whether there was a fire somewhere in the east.
A glance to the east started to put my mind at ease, but not without question. Logic was telling me the glow was a reflection of the morning’s first orange-yellow light peeking over the east horizon, but something in my mind initially didn’t allow me to believe such a dim glow growing in the east could be casting such a bright reflection into the window.
I wondered again whether I’d left a milkhouse light burning the previous day. And then, the brightening glow on the window reassured me that it truly was the morning light’s reflection of that growing sunlight.
The reflected light shined into my being and made my heart glow with a little extra warmth on that cool spring morning.
Such joy has been mine to have a means here on this ridge to see the sunrise whether I’m facing east or – thanks to that milkhouse window – facing west.
The window’s sunrise glow most often greets me while I’m working in the farm’s office on the southwest corner of our old farmhouse.
When the glow appears, I most often wait a couple minutes for it to brighten a bit, and then turn to look to the east as best I can through the office’s south-facing window. Each morning’s opening is a little different than the others on that east horizon, this time of the year making me walk to one of the house’s east windows to get a better view – the earth’s seasonal tilt being such that the best view is farther north than during other times of the year.
No matter the splendor in the east, though, most days I take a few extra glances at the milkhouse window to watch the colors shift and mix in it. And, I watch those colors spread like oil on water, first small on the window and then sprawling to cover the full window and then the entire milkhouse wall and then the barn and adjacent shed.
I figure that I’ll someday mosey into the milkhouse when the morning glow arrives on that window, to have a look out from the inside if only to see what the window sees on that east horizon.
I’d be sure to note what light is cast across the milkhouse’s inner sanctum, wondering whether it might bring to light visions of Erling Eimon or his ancestors working the bulk-tank, milk-cans and milking equipment there in that place made holy in communion with the soil the Eimon family homesteaded.
I’d be sure to note what light is cast on that spot, wondering whether it might bring to light visions of earlier people who borrowed this land before the Eimons or the Larsons or my wife and I borrowed this spot on the ridge.
I fear, though, that the window also would glisten light onto tears the milkhouse cries for memories of what had been – that of bustling activities of cows and people; tears of toil and loss; tears of successes and joys.
There are so many reasons that mornings shining in that milkhouse window are so important to a soul such as mine – reasons that go far beyond the simple beauty and joys found in another sunrise over the grasses, trees and water of such breathtaking rural countryside.
Those who’ve had fortune to know dairy farms in their purest forms understand how the milkhouse is the belly of a farm. It’s the place where the farm’s controls live, and the place to where the white-gold milk flows. It’s the place where meetings are held, elbows leaned on bulk-tank lids to negotiate sales or to spend a good visit with a neighbor.
The milkhouse is the farm’s central gathering place for all a dairy farm was, is, and will be. It’s the farm’s soul and holds the land’s spirit.
Maybe the real reason I occasionally hesitate when I see the milkhouse window’s morning glow isn’t because I’m wondering whether I’d forgotten to flip a light-switch.
Maybe the real reason is because I learned in my youngest age about how the milkhouse is that soul and holds that spirit.
Maybe, in that milkhouse window, I’m seeing the farm’s aura starting to shine for yet another day.
It all makes me look forward to tomorrow, when the milkhouse window glow shines life into me and asks me to join that new day.
— Scott Schultz
Editor’s note: This first appeared in Scott Schultz’s blog, Rural Routes (ruralroutes.blog)