Friday, November 14, 2008

a quiet little corner

A couple of weeks ago we drove in a northeasterly direction and landed in the heart of an Amish community.

Before our evening appointment, we stopped outside the town of Berlin, Ohio at a store called The Ashery. Simple, small and family-run, the Ashery sells bulk foods like grains, soup mixes, honey, cheeses and many wonderful, pungent spices. My neighbor Lynn visits the Ashery about once a year, so I was anxious to check it out.

Along the last few miles, I spotted several schools. Since children walk to school, they are spaced not more than a mile or two apart. The schoolyards could have fit the landscape of 100 years ago.

I didn't ask the employees to pose for photos, but just observing them was fascinating. Skirt-clad teenaged girls were working at the back of the store as well as dusting and restocking shelves. Seemingly to dispel the myth of a quiet and reserved people, the girls joked and laughed loudly as they went about their tasks.

And I went about mine, picking up rolled oats, a jug of honey, rice mixes and other good stuff.

As we left, I sensed a foreign but wonderful hush falling over the surrounding hills. A customer left the Ashery and headed home on her bike. A horse-drawn buggy rounded the corner and continued down the road. No traffic jams, stressed people or buzzing cell phones. I enjoyed a few moments of just the rhythmic clatter of horse hooves.

While the Amish surely face challenges in raising children and supporting themselves, the quietness masks it. I imagine an acceptance of doing life with faith and hard work, and I felt a little envious at the simple and quiet life that is this little corner of Ohio.

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