Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Amish Country

Once again, her blog sparked memories...and I must write about them. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is one of my favorite places in the East. I so enjoy the the vistas of acres of rolling farmfields, being tilled by Clydesdales and other horses, the smell of the rich, fertile earth which awaits the planting of tobacco, the sounds of the old steam trains and the rhythmic 'clip clop, clip clop' of the former race horses that pull the Amish buggies.

I enjoy shopping the Amish road-side stands. In Fall we've purchased fresh vegetables and jars of preserved goods. Baked items are always available as are wood products. We've got several wooden crates, birdhouses, a toy Noah's Ark with animals, and a bench from one favorite place on a back road in New Holland. We bought an Amish-sewn quilt top in Ronks. It's dark green, burgandy and white, and is still awaiting my hand at finishing. I'm afraid I'm not as 'industrious' as the Amish are. I mean well, but...well, you know how it is. Life gets in the way.

When we pass those simple, but orderly, Amish homes in Pennsylvania, I am always amazed at how neat they are. The gardens are weed-free, the barnyards are clean. The porches and walks are well swept, even the clothes on the line are hung in order. The Amish would be appalled to hear that I am envious of their responsible use of time. As the old-fashioned windmills big paddles turn, pumping water up from the ground to the pipes that run to house, I consider the size of the homes and the families that live within the walls. Numerous generations share the building, many of which have had separate homes added on to house the newly married family members. I find myself envious, too, of the fact that those families have the multi-generational experience of living together on the same acreage. The work together, live together, pray together.

I've always wished I could experience an Amish worship service, sitting on the benches in the barn where they are meeting on that week. Of course, if I did attend, I wouldn't be terribly welcome, as I'm "English" and an outsider. I wouldn't understand a word of the worship, either, as the Amish have a language all their own....a kind of mixture of old German and some form of English. (I've heard some conversations between women in a fabric store, and what was said was not discernable to my ear.)

Aside from the intrigue I have with the Amish way of life, other things available in Lancaster County have a draw for me. There's the staying at the Red Caboose Motel which is made up of real train cars which have been turned into comfortable sleeping quarters. There's a restaurant car, too, where one can go for meals. The floor is attached to hydraulics which make it seem to be rocking and rolling along a track, all the while 'train' music is playing. (Think Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Wabash Cannonball. Out front, an old steam train stops in front to pick up passengers and take them on a scenic tour through the farmlands. there's a miniature train display running in the store, and lots of railroad memorabelia decorating the walls.

There's a fun store ....in New Holland, I believe, called "The Outhouse." There are lots of gags being played on customers while they window shop or find the perfect gift.

Lancaster County is a busy, touristy area, but it's fun to go there, and it never seems to get old for me. I hope to get back there, one of these days....Mike's running short on Amish Chow-Chow.