Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Sunset in Harrison Co., Ohio

Where to start? First of all, we had a lovely trip with few complications. Except for catching a nasty head cold two days before our trip ended (a complete surprise since I never get sick and my husband always does) we found that we were able to cram in most of the visiting, sight-seeing, and shopping that we had hoped to accomplish, and then some. We rolled into Berlin pretty late, so it was hard to get a feel for rediscovering Ohio in the dark. But the next morning when the sun began to rise over a hazy landscape, wow. I had forgotten how beautiful Holmes Co. can be with its scenic patchwork of green rolling hills. My second impression? This place is prosperous beyond any other settlement I have ever visited. Amish living in homes so big that our house would not even fit in their garden shed. And progressive. Young Amish women crossing the street while texting on their iphones or whatever, sparkly rhinestone pins clipped to their coverings, and little sequined bags dangling from their elbows to match their brightly colored dresses. You would not see this in Lancaster. Not out in the open.

"This is the most prosperous settlement I've ever seen!" I blurted out tactlessly to an Amish school teacher. He looked embarrassed and agreed that he found the conditions in other settlements to be somewhat lacking compared to what he is used to, but lamented that perhaps they have raised the standard a little too high there in Holmes.

But the real show stoppers were the scenery and the people. Every where you looked was a picture perfect postcard of tidy homes and gardens, corn fields, children playing, and women tending their vegetable patches. How do they even keep their lawns so short? I would have to mow mine every day to get my property that neat, and only twice in our time there did we see anyone mowing the grass. Flowers filled every available planting spot at every home we visited. I'm old enough to know that free child labor and weed repellant play a part in taming nature, but the complete uniformity of how everyone does it is something to behold. And the people- never did we feel more at home than being in Holmes. Everywhere we went we found people to be warm and friendly, and were able to find connections to mutual friends or acquaintances. On Sunday we visited a large church (Sharon CM) and were taken in like old friends, with one dear woman pointing out that there are many homes in the area for sale that we might be interested in buying. Of course, we were not there scouting for a new community, we were just there to relax. I hope you mid-west folks appreciate just how warm and friendly you are, because it is not that way out here in the east at all. Even, and especially, amongst the different Anabaptist churches.

I will say, there have been some recent sad events out in Holmes, and it was encouraging to see people reaching out to the hurting to provide support and necessities. They were reaching out tearfully, with sincerity and humility. And hope.

Anyway, this is a trip best told in here we go:

The view from where we stayed. And yes, sometimes I would just go stand outside and look at it! It was my inspiration that led me to stop calling it "Ohio" and start calling it "The Promised Land."

One thing we noticed out here very fast is that everything shuts down at five o'clock sharp. It was tough to get used to that, but nice because it forces you to slow down. If businesses here in the east did that, they would all be going out of business. I guess you could say, we've set our own standard too high.

We loved the Care-n-Share shop, where all of the items are made by plain people with physical challenges:

I love black raspberries and they are impossible to get where we live, so I kept an eye out for them. By the end of our stay, all I could get that was left unsold was a large frozen bag at Troyer's. I was so grateful! Of course, I came right home and made pie.

This is the home of the Andy Rabers, who had us for supper. We sat on the front porch and bird-watched for a bit, as they had lots of feeders and houses on their property.

My husband (on right) with friend Andy J. Miller, in Andy's shop.

Fun in Farmerstown.

Quilt shop in Charm.

Me- relaxing for once!


  1. Hello Monica
    Glad you had a nice trip. Thanks for the award too. The pictures are lovely and I am happy to have seen a little more of your country.

  2. I think my favourite pic is of the two boys. I think boys in "spenders" are the cutest. :O

    You really do have a way with words. After reading your blog, I feel like I bumble around.

  3. Thanks for the kind words. But I think "Boys in 'spenders are the cutest" is a phrase that has good bumper sticker potential!

  4. Interesting...that's where I was raised,and lived, the first seven years of our married life. It is a beautiful place, but after being away many years I prefer the less populated area. Oh, and my sister goes to Sharon CM church!

  5. Welcome home, Monica!! Love the pics - I knew I would and couldn't wait to see what you had. It sounds like the vacation was a complete success. I mapquested and from where I live to Charm, OH, it's 8-1/2 hours - that's do-able in one day. I have to put that on my "someday" list. I hope my someday is soon - I need a vacation!! Glad you're back ~

  6. It looks like you had a great trip! I miss the "neatness" of living in the Shenandoah Valley. I live in the Roanoke Valley now and it just isn't the same. I wonder sometimes if it is due to not as many anabaptist here.

  7. Hello! I'm new to your blog...I think I found you this morning through joyful noise blog...I'm not's been a long day and I've had a nap ;D

    Anyhow, I've lived here in Ohio for almost 4 years and am about 2 hours from Amish looks so beautiful up that way! We do have a few Amish & Mennonite around here, and I was amazed at their beautiful homes...where I'm from in Western Ky their homes are just shy of shabby.

    I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog! Come see me when you can!☺

  8. I so enjoyed reading your post. We were last in Holmes County in 2006. I've been to that quilt shop in Charm. I would surely love to go back. It was so beautiful there, and I so enjoyed the Amish, that I wanted to move there. Maybe one day we will.... I have to say it is sad to hear of the women starting to wear decorations. It is interesting how things change.

  9. Thank you all for your nice comments, I am so glad to share these memories of our trip with so many interesting people!
    Tammy- Welcome!

    In Modest-Change comes slowly and in a controlled manner for those folks, but it always arrives sooner or later.

  10. I just came across your blog thru my aunt Twila (who also left a comment). I was raised in Holmes Co. but moved 40 miles south to another Menno community when I got married 5 1/2 yrs ago. I missed Holmes Co for quite awhile, but now am glad I don't live there anymore and just enjoy it when I visit my mom who still lives there!! (she goes to Sharon CM church).I have learned to like the less populated area and am glad to be away from the "competition" to be a little better than your friends and neighbors!! :)

  11. Hi Monica! I empathize about the competitiveness of living in a place like that, it's not for me and I am glad we don't have that where we live. We thought that if we would ever move out west than we would either go further north or further south of all smart Monicas. :-)

  12. I've made two pilgrimages to Holmes county from Virginia: your description and pictures of your trip made me want to make another, and soon. I like to get off the beaten path, as you do. It's hard for me to visualize Amish women wearing rhinestone pins--but I'm trying. Maybe it's just a temporary phase they're going through?

  13. Gail- I think that temporary phase is called "youth."

  14. Hi Monica I'm so glad you had a nice trip.. We were in Holmes County many years back and I took just loved it. I found it to be very peaceful..I"m surprise the young girls with all the fancy things.. I found many years back things to be very different. But time does change..I just loved all the pictures. I'm surprised they let you take pictures..Even the one in the quilt shop.. Old how I miss the good life..Thanks for the smile you put on my face..
    BLessings Sister Brenda


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