Sunday, August 1, 2010
Three slices of Amish to go, please ....
I know it's cliched to say the Amish are quaint. But my dealings with them last week left no other words on my lips. Read for yourself and then you be the judge:
Nine year old Fannie opened the screen door before I got up the steps and told me, sorry, they were out of eggs. Hmmm, I thought. This had been happening a lot since they moved a few months ago. Either out, or not enough to fill my usual order of about 3 - 4 dozen (a week's worth). The hens must not be diggin' their new digs.
I leaned in a little closer and said to the girl, "Do me a favor?"
Fannie was the egg-gatherer of the family and she was starting to look a little nervous now.
"Tell your hens to start laying more eggs."
She looked at me very seriously for just a moment, processing my request, then broke into a gap-toothed giggle.
Out picking up milk, I noticed more kids than usual running about the place. I asked Katie if she had relatives visiting, but she said no, she was just watching some neighbor kids for a few hours. Next thing I knew, I heard a brisk clip-clop turning into the barnyard. I turned in time to see a little chocolate and cream miniature horse turning in off the road, pulling a cart full of grinning and laughing Amish kids, all outfitted in their usual straw hats and suspenders and aprons and bonnets. The boy at the wheel, so to speak, expertly pulled his charge up to the barn and in the blink of an eye the cart was unloaded and the kids clambered all over the pony like termites on a log, unbuckling the leather straps of his harness. Within seconds the little horse was free of his trappings, walked into the barn, and the cart parked. Why is it that my kids can't even put their cereal boxes away?
A couple days later I was at the same farm. While Katie was filling my milk order, I noticed her husband walking their new horse from the barn out to the paddock. He turned him loose, then shut the gate and leaned on the fence railings to evaluate his newest piece of horse flesh. Soon enough, their oldest son joined him, and he leaned identically against the fence, watching the horse in the manliest way he was able. Father and son were near mirror images of each other in their black woolen pants with suspenders, worn work boots, blue cloth shirts and straw hats. It seems no matter the culture, older men and younger men will convene together and talk cars.
But then as I was leaving, I noticed their youngest son had also joined in the observation and discussion. Between father and teenaged son, squatted down on his haunches and peering through the fence, was their three year old boy. Red hair sprouted from under his straw hat, and he wore the identical black pants, suspenders and blue shirt that his elders wore. But as I drove past, he turned to wave, still squatted down, and I saw he was clutching in his arms a cast-off rag doll from one of his older sisters.
Quanit? Please. The word doesn't even begin to descibe the scene.