Dr. Diarist had a meeting recently in Lancaster County, about an hour from our home. I went along, as I often do, and since I’d have to occupy myself during the time he was busy, I planned to take Basil and tour the countryside for the first time in months.
(This photo: Wikipedia)
But, as it happened, the day was going to be an infelicitous one for cycling, so I did a little research and found Landis Valley Farm and Museum nearby. (That URL hasn’t worked for me for weeks, but you may have better luck? It does appear to be the correct one. I reported it; no one seemed interested, and it still doesn’t work for me. )
I reluctantly left Basil home, and quite unexpectedly had a very different sort of transportation adventure. It was a particularly cold day, and few visitors had made their way to the farm. While strolling around, I saw a woman driving a fairy-tale carriage, and, on a whim, asked if she took passengers.
She did! She is a volunteer at the farm, and was practicing handling the horse and buggy for an upcoming wedding. We took several turns around the grounds while she patiently answered my questions. Nettie May, named for the sister of the founding Landis brothers, gently pulled the carriage.
Another wagon was making the rounds, pulled by Hank and Henry (named for the brothers themselves). My guide suggested that I should hop on board, as a more experienced guide was settled in the back and might be able to provide more information about the farm. Naturally, I did!
But my questions were soon forgotten; the driver asked me if I’d like to a chance at the reins . . . Would I? Would I? Oh yes, indeed! When would I ever have an opportunity like this again?
Let me say for the record that huge, powerful, well-trained horses are responsive, but not as responsive as a Brompton. Also, squeaky voices are not necessarily authoritative in a horse’s ear. But what a wonderful experience!
I drove the team (with a vigilant genuine driver right by my side) around the farm several times. Then I mentioned that I had to leave (Dr. D’s demo was over, and he was waiting to be collected), and asked to be dropped off. It was suggested that I might like to drive the team right to my car: Never has traversing a parking lot been such an unfamiliar pleasure!
I wasn’t very happy about having left Basil home, but the end result was most unexpected, and most extraordinary. Another time, perhaps Basil himself would enjoy a ride in the carriage or wagon? We’ll have to see; I’ll be back.
There’s lots going on at this “living museum” even if you don’t get a chance to drive a team of horses: demonstrations; events; classes; re-creations; a heritage seed project; heritage husbandry and more. As a side note, the requisite shop is the most intelligently stocked of any I’ve seen at similar venues; it’s well worth a visit all on its own.