As a young lad, I grew up on a farm in rural southern Michigan. Our farmhouse stood on the north side of a country road. We lived in that house from the time I was five years old until the summer I turned fifteen. During those childhood and early teen years, my brother and I shared a bedroom in the southwest part of the upstairs of that house. I still remember the Davy Crockett wallpaper that was on the walls of that room.
Our bedroom had a window which faced south, and out of which we could look across the road to the neighbor's fields. The general geographic nature of those fields was the long ridge of a hill about 100 yards or so off of the road, and running more or less parallel to the road. Along the top of that ridge was a fence row. It was the fence row that provided the stage for the magic that I saw there, and of which I now share with you.
The other necessary ingredient of the magic I wish to speak of, was those clear nights, preferably during the time from late spring to early fall when the window would be open, when the moon was full or nearly so; those nights when the moonlight shines so bright that things stand out quite clearly, especially in open spaces such as our neighbor's fields.
On those magical nights I would lay in my bed and look out the window across to the ridge where I would see the magic happen. It was on those nights when a low solitary tree in the fence row on the ridge of that hill would magically come alive; the moonlight bringing it alive as its outline could be clearly seen against the backdrop of the night sky behind it.
I would look out the window and gaze at the image of the outline of that low tree up on the far hill. In its shape I saw an Arab riding over the crest of the hill on his magnificent Arabian horse; Lawrence of Arabia riding across the desert sands.
Another image that would sometimes come to mind is that of the tragic highwayman riding across the English countryside.
And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.
In the course of life's changes, we moved from that house. Though the hill with its ridge is still where it always has been, the fence row and that solitary low tree are long gone. Those nights when I looked out that window and watched the magic of the moonlight on the ridge are a lifetime ago, but still cherished and not forgotten.