One of my favorite things I enjoy about living in Kidron, Ohio is the Amish. My husband has family here but I grew up maybe 20 miles north. 20 miles doesnâ€™t sound like much in distance but as far as culture it is worlds apart. I lived on a farm so the rural lifestyle is not new to me. What was new were the Amish and in particular having Amish neighbors. Contrary to popular belief my experience with my Amish neighbors is they are not standoffish at all. They are quite friendly and quite talkative. We meet in our shared lane or by the mail box often and chat for long stretches of time about all sorts of things. I happen to like horses so we can talk horse talk or talk about gardens, livestock or the weather. We talk about my dogs (who misbehave) and their dogs (who behave). The wife makes soap that she sells to Lehmanâ€™s so I help her by printing off soap labels on my computer. She makes a beautiful product but to label it would be difficult as you can imagine without a printer or computer. I am glad to help her with this. Last time I did she wanted to pay me for the soap labels but we decided she could just lend me their billy goat to visit with my doe instead of exchanging any money. Howâ€™s that for bartering? Not your usual exchange but it works and now with any luck Iâ€™ll have goatâ€™s milk this spring.
I also give my Amish neighbors rides to doctorâ€™s appointments or the bus station for the times they travel to see relatives. One time after a trip to the bus station they offered to pay me gas money but I jokingly told them they could give me a ride in a buggy instead. Time passed and it slipped my mind but one day the daughter knocks on my door to let me know she was there to give me a ride in the buggy. Oh joy!!! I was going to go for a ride in the buggy!! I was very excited to be doing this! She wanted to know where I wanted to go. The only place that came to mind was the ice cream stand several miles down the road. By car it is not even 5 minutes. I, of course had no frame of reference as to how long this trip would be by buggy. We headed for the ice cream stand and the first thing you notice is how the world just looks so different in the buggy. Of course you wave to everyone you go by. My Amish driver pleasantly chatted away the whole time. What a different world viewed from a buggy and what a different perspective ON the world. The rhythmic clip clop of the horseâ€™s hooves and bounce in the buggy kind of lull you into this relaxed state as you watch the world pass by. No wonder the Amish live by ‘Amish time’. You cannot be in a hurry in a buggy.
We got to the ice cream stand after what seemed a long timeâ€”I felt in a time warp almost! I had lost all track of time. I offered to buy the girl a cone but when she got back in the buggy she could not eat AND drive the horse so I got to drive the buggy. Oh, this was better than I ever expected! I own and ride horses so I am used to handling them but to drive a horse in a buggy is an altogether different feel and oh, so fun! I got to urge the horse on into a pretty fast clip and then bring him down to a slower walk. It is a much different mindset to think about the need to pace your horse so you think of that as you drive watching them to see when they need a breather.
During the buggy ride toward home the occasional car would pass and you always wave. You can see much better into a car from a buggy than you can from a car into another car. Gives you another glimpse as to how the English must appear to the Amish. My guess would be always in a rush but my Amish companion never uttered any words of frustration at the cars.
I did turn a few heads as cars passed and they saw an â€˜Englishâ€™ woman driving the buggy. In fact I was passed by my neighbor who I watched do a double take and then not long after that, my husband who really did a double take. He stopped to ask if I was going to take my son to baseball practice! Well, I had planned on it but I learned a very important lesson in buggy travel and that is you get where youâ€™re going when you get there! Your horse only can go so fast and there is not a whole lot you can do about it but sit and watch the world go by!
By the way my neighbor got me out of a bind with my son by taking him to baseball practice so he wasnâ€™t late! He did a double take of me in the buggy and knew my son and his son needed to be at baseball practice so he gave my son a ride. Yeah, I got good neighbors and that means a lot!
You can see some of my artwork inspired by the Amish community in Kidron, Ohio visit www.amish-art.com