Wednesday, July 22, 2009
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 pictures...so 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.