The horse drawn buggy moved at a steady pace. The trotter was a magnificent animal keeping the rhythmic pace of a thoroughbred. Inside the buggy was an Amish couple with their two children. The father had a full beard which is customary when the young man marries and no longer shaves. The lady wore a dress she had made, and a small bonnet covered her head. The two children were dressed in similar fashion. The children are multilingual speaking German at home and English when attending school or other situations requiring English. Today is Sunday and they spent the morning in a home fellowship which would be analogous to church attendance in most other cultures. It also represents an afternoon of fun and festivities for the two children. Volleyball is the sport of choice and the Amish communities have makeshift volleyball courts in pastures, yards and practically any place that will accommodate a large group.
The summer has been busy for the boys and their father who attend to large fields of crops, primarily corn and tobacco. Most of the work is accomplished with the help of large ‘Belgium’ work horses. There are no power tools or devices such as tractors, mowers etc. All work is done with manual labor. In addition to maintaining the crops the family also operates a dairy of 60 Holstein dairy cows. The cows are milked twice daily, in the morning at 5:30. and 4:30 in the afternoon.. (Patches of Godlight……hard work, devotion to duty, responsibility, family, Godliness.)
June and I left Daniels, West Virginia and traveled to Harrisonburg, Virginia. where I wanted to visit James Madison University which has an enrollment in access of 16,000 students. It has a very fine reputation for academics and the professional literature frequently refers to their accomplishments. When we arrived it was the day upper classmen were returning for the fall semester. The campus was a beehive of activity. Additionally, it was pristine in its appearance. The architectural design makes the visitor immediately stand in awe with the beauty of the physical facilities. It was obvious from the smiles and enthusiasm of the students it was a place they wanted to be.
After a night in Harrisonburg we started our trip to Paradise, Pennsylvania where we were treated to two outstanding theatrical performances, American Icons and Sights and Sounds. As exciting as these events were they could not exceed the joy and experience we had staying at a bed and breakfast in the Heart of the Amish Community. A couple who operate a large dairy farm 160 acres and milked 80 cows daily, have a couple of rooms in an old farm house where we had the privilege of staying. Yes, we did go to the birthing barn for young calves and walked (very carefully) through the barn and witnessed the milking procedure. Having grown up in farming country this was not an entirely new experience for me but for June it was.
Words cannot express the joy we experienced in this area of the country. The beauty of the farms was beyond our greatest expectations. The work ethnic, cleanliness, and the joy we experienced in visiting inside the homes of an Amish couple and discussing their lifestyle and beliefs was refreshing. Seeing a culture that is completely self-sustaining (no medicare, or social security for the senior members. Needs are met by family and community) makes a person wonder if today’s economic progress is really progress.
On the road to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Gary and June
“the most important things in life are not things.”