Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Unplugged

I won't be converting to Amish anytime soon (um, make that ever), but I had a good, interesting, enjoyable and (most important) comfortable time on my little getaway to north central Pennsylvania.

We were near Le Raysville, an area where natural gas drillers are moving in and chasing the Amish out. The truck traffic is increasing and it's becoming less and less safe for horse-and-buggy travel. My neighbor's father and his wife will be moving to Wisconsin later this month.

The purpose of our trip was for my neighbor to collect some of her late mother's things. Amazingly, everything fit in the car and nothing had to be shipped back to West Virginia. She was very happy about that, but the trip was bittersweet for her.

After my initial shock at not having reliable cell service and no wi-fi unless I drove to Towanda – more than 25 miles from my host's home – I settled into the simple life. I napped. I read part of A History of the Amish. I drove (that was, after all, my job) over many, many, many one-lane dirt and gravel roads.

I met some of the kindest, friendliest and nicest people, but after my experience with our own Amish neighbors, I expected nothing less.

Every home I was in had hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing. I was certainly more grateful for that than anything else. I was prepared for more primitive amenities, but so glad it didn't come to that.

Two solar panels keep this Amish
family's freezer and refrigerator running.
Two things really stood out for me. One was that my host family (my neighbor's sister) had SOLAR PANELS on the roof of their more-than-a-century-old house. OH, YES THEY DID. Two small panels are enough to keep a freezer and refrigerator working. The freezer is in an attached garage, while the refrigerator and packaged foods are in a little pantry off the kitchen. All of the home-canned goods are stored in the basement, and you wouldn't believe how much space that takes up.

The other thing was how very few toys the children have. My grandchildren have rooms full of plastic gadgets that light up and make noise. Amish children have books and dolls and toy horses. Lots of toy horses.

Lilah and Marlene, heading off to
play in their grandfather's barn.
I spent quite a bit of time with another of my neighbor's sisters and her two little girls, a five-year-old and a three-year-old. (Both of them were adorable and I wanted to take pictures so badly, but thought it would be rude. I found out too late that it's fine to take candid photographs, but not posed ones.) The girls played with each other, doing imaginary chores and riding imaginary horses. They were never whiny or cross.

At church Sunday night, two little boys about the same ages as the girls patiently sat with their mother through a long singing session, never once fidgeting or needing to be entertained or fed or scolded. Compared to English children, Amish children are amazingly self-sufficient. I think probably my father and his sisters were raised similarly, except maybe they didn't have as many books.

There's a lot more rattling around my brain about the trip. I'm sure there will be another post or two. For right now, I'm glad to be home.

And I'm glad I went.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would love to have an experience like this. I grew up going to the Finger Lakes in New York in the summers, and there were several Amish and Mennonite communities nearby. Besides frequenting an amazing restaurant with the tastiest pies you've ever eaten, I have had no experience with the Amish community. But I truly am fascinated by it.

Anonymous said...

(oh and I'm Lainey, another Oct NaBloPoMo participant! http://www.livelafelove.com)

Vickie said...

My local amish kids alternate between riding in pony drawn tiny carts (for fun, not talking about the transportation buggies which of course the families have), and riding their bikes.

They also have things like basket ball/hoops and hula hoops.

And that just reminded me that every buggy is a little different, I can't tell them apart, but they can.

One of the things that is beloved (by both women and girls) here is china. Especially hand painted china. They have huge china cabinets to show/store it. It is common for a special occasion to be commemorated by a piece of hand painted china.

I will watch for solar panels. My guess is they are on the sides of roofs where they can't be seen from the street.

glad you had a good time.

You would not have had indoor plumbing here. . .

gingerzingi said...

Who knew Amish kids kicked it Gangnam style? LOL!