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Posts Tagged ‘Holmes Co.’

We never got the storms overnight Friday into Saturday, at least not in Berlin, Ohio. It was gray out, but the pavement was dry. I personally felt the dreary adrenalin drain that always comes on the morning of the last day of vacation when the excitement is over and you’re heading home. We’d lightened our load for the one night at the Comfort Suites, so it wasn’t that hard to get packed up. We dined across the road at the Farmstead Restaurant for their breakfast buffet, where everything was tasty but often blindingly sweet. Example: killer cinnamon rolls, but the icing on top was an inch thick. I saw bowls of something that looked like chocolate pie. I don’t know what it actually was; absolutely delicious, but what I thought might be meringue was another thick, sweet cream of some kind. Fortunately I had enough sense to counter the sugar with scrambled eggs and sausages.

J.Hooligan was thrilled to try the cinnamon rolls, too, but was cross-eyed sick after just one (and they aren’t typically huge rolls, more dinner roll size). There was a concoction made with Oreo cookies, but J. had to give up halfway through. S.Hooligan, on the other hand, continued her rotten ways from the day before and decided she didn’t like the good bacon from the buffet, so her mother brought plate after plate of purple grapes. S. spotted a giant gumball machine as soon as we entered the restaurant, and her mother said she could have a gumball if she behaved during breakfast. She didn’t. In fact, she outdid herself with obnoxious behavior, then couldn’t understand why Diamondqueen would deny her the promised reward.

We finished up our experience with me trying to flush the toilet in the restaurant bathroom and having the handle come off in my hand and fall to the floor with a clatter. I was alone in the bathroom, fortunately, but had just broken the toilet in the handicap bathroom without successfully flushing, unfortunately, so I ran right to the cashier and told her the problem. Later Diamondqueen was in the bathroom with S., and S. hollered, “Hey, THAT’S the toilet Chester broke!” (It’s a long story, but S. started calling me Chester last September and delights in annoying me with it.) One of the Amish girl servers came into the bathroom, and S. yelled at her, “Don’t go in there, that toilet’s broken!” Diamondqueen pointed out the girl already knew that since she had a sign she was going to put up on the stall door stating that fact. We scurried out to the van and burned rubber out of town, convinced we’d left the same mark on Amish country that we’d left on Sandusky, Marblehead, Put-in-Bay, Cleveland…

I’d thought maybe we’d make the traditional stops Mom and I enjoy on the way to Columbus – the longest covered bridge in Ohio and the Velvet Ice Cream factory grounds – but at that point everything seemed anticlimactic. The kids were absorbed in their videos of Tru Jackson and SpongeBob, and Diamondqueen just wanted to get home. We made it back without incident and steered into the Hooligan driveway around two o’clock on Saturday afternoon. Since I live with Mom now, at least I didn’t have to return to an empty apartment and feel blue in my post-trip decompression. In fact, Mom had a serving of leftover chicken and dumplings and small apple pies waiting for my return home, sure medicine that will cure anything.

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As we celebrate our bounty troyers_produce3-small-web-view.jpgwith gratitude this week, my thoughts go back to the trip my mother and I made to Holmes Co., Ohio, in October. I was impressed by how the Amish celebrate abundance from their fields. Their produce markets aren’t just crates of vegetables, mountains of pumpkins, and offhand stacks of bagged apples. Everywhere there’s a presentation, beautifully arranged, of a sampling of everything the market offers for sale. Sure, it’s good advertising, but these presentations were so opulent, so colorful. It was easy to imagine a proclamation behind the rich displays: Look and see how good and generous God is, how much He cares for us!

Many of us decorate our porches and yards with pumpkins, gourds, or corn. I was surprised to see similar displays in many Amish yards. I don’t think of the Amish as trying for decorative effect, although maybe that’s just ignorance on my part. Knowing how they make use of everything, I wondered about them sparing even a couple of small pumpkins or squash for a yard display.

My mother suggested that maybe they take in the displays before the things go bad so they can still use them. That may be. I like to think, though, that those compact clusters of orange, yellow, and green were like small altars in tribute to the pumpkin-truck-small-web-view.jpgabundance of Lord and land. Maybe I was simply affected by the spiritual imprint of a largely religious community, but there seemed something sacred about the yard displays; and, for that matter, about the carefully assembled presentations at the produce stands. I couldn’t help feeling that it took spiritually rich folk to celebrate abundance in such a grand and shining way.

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My mother and I just returned from two gorgeous days in Holmes Co., Ohio, also known as Amish Country. The weather was superb (although hot), the fields are still green as opposed to the dry, crinkly grass of drought-ravaged Southwestern Ohio, and bright leaf color is exploding into view.

I haven’t had a chance yet to work with the photos I took, so instead I thought I’d share a few observations. Although this was our fifth trip to Holmes Co. since 1998, I don’t recall seeing or experiencing these things before:

  • Some of the Amish wear flip-flops: I thought I was seeing things when I noticed flip-flops on a young girl in a market, but today I spotted an older Amish woman wearing them as well. (I hope I wasn’t openly staring at her feet.) I’m pretty sure I’ve seen walking and running shoes, especially on the kids, but the flip-flops came as a surprise.
  • It sounds funny to hear the Amish say “you guys”: I heard this at least three times, usually from young women dealing with the public at the market, in shops, or in restaurants. “Did you guys enjoys your meal?” “Did you guys find everything you were looking for?” In at least one case, the girl who said “you guys” had just been speaking Pennsylvania Dutch to her co-workers. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. It just seemed so familiar and colloquial, even in an area where I’ve always found the Amish to be extremely friendly. 
  • There are a lot more sheep in Holmes Co. than there used to be: I may be completely wrong about this, but I swear we saw more sheep this time as we drove the rural backroads, admiring the scenery. I love sheep, as I described in this post! I certainly notice when there are just one or two grazing in a small pasture. Large flocks, or even a few dotting farms at regular intervals, would not have escaped my attention in past visits. Naturally, I was in my glory, but I did come away wondering whether there was some growing agricultural trend regarding sheep in Holmes Co.
  • Dresses worn by younger Amish girls and women are more stylish: I admit I’m not always certain if I’m seeing an traditional Amish or a Mennonite girl or woman based on dress alone. However, the dresses that seemed “stylish” were being worn by girls in the yards of rural farms as well as in the businesses in Berlin. Since I don’t have much of a fashion sense or an eye for fashion detail, it’s hard for me to describe how these dresses were different. Sometimes the fabric seemed something other than solid cotton (I swore I saw an oyster-colored knit used for one dress), the dresses themselves seem more form-fitting, and often the short sleeves have a breezy flourish to them. I’ve always enjoyed seeing the bright colors of the dresses and the men’s shirts, but this was something entirely different.
  • Chapel veils instead of caps: Again, I may have been seeing this on Mennonite girls and women instead of traditional Amish. The circlets of lace were usually black and reminded me exactly of the chapel veils we girls had to wear in Catholic church in the 1960s and earlier. In one case a middle-aged woman wore the veil covering the top of her head, but I saw younger women wear the veils folded and pinned near or over buns. From the front, it was impossible to tell the girl was wearing any head covering at all. (We used to fold our veils in half, too, although I don’t think the nuns would have allowed us to expose the tops of our heads by tying the lace around our ponytails.)
  • Are the Amish allowed to use computers and other electronics?: This question arises out of the many instances when I observed Amish girls and women using computerized cash registers. Also, in one traditional small hardware store where I’d purchased a few gadgets, the girl checking out my items couldn’t get a slotted spoon to scan correctly. She grabbed a microphone and called, “Mary, assistance at the front register, please. Mary, assistance at the front.” Her voice was broadcast throughout the shop full of bearded farmers browsing the aisles. It just gave me pause, this slim girl in her lavender cotton dress, with her severe hair tight under her white cap, peering through plain dark-rimmed glasses — holding a microphone and speaking with the unconcerned but officious manner of a Wal-Mart cashier. One of these things is not like the other.

It was a terrific getaway. More to come…

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