It’s a gorgeous morning as I sit in the breezeway and write this post. The sun is shining. There is a cool breeze. The birds are singing. I can even hear a rooster crowing from the distance. There is a big, fat bumble bee humming in a flowering bush next to me. I’m OK with him…as long as he stays there. It’s just after 8am and the buggies are starting to clip-clop down the road, on their way to church. Every so often, from a distance, I’ll take a photo of the buggies…never their faces and never invasive. I respect their privacy too much to do that.
(I wish I could capture the noise, the beautiful sound of the horse’s hooves on the road and the whirling noise of the buggy wheels, spinning on its journey. Maybe I’ll try to record it.)
In just over an hour, I’m headed next door for a “party” with Lizzie and her mother. They are playing hooky from church today so we decided to have an early morning party with Starbucks coffee and two different kinds of shoo-fly pies that I had bought to take home (sorry folks, no shoo-fly for you). Her husband, Amos, is headed to church as the representative for the family. Lizzie’s mother is too old to attend the long church services–I wonder if she misses it.Lizzie didn’t seem too torn up about not attending and they all still talk about how I sat through a service without understanding one word. It seems to make them laugh and wonder.
Lizzie’s mom lives among her children, spending a week at each child’s house. The children take care of her, rather than put her in a nursing home. A good option and one that I’d prefer…if I had more children, I suppose. When she comes to Lizzie’s, Lizzie stays home with her if it is a church Sunday. Lizzie’s mother is the second oldest child of seventeen (and only one set of twins). There are only four surviving children in the family–one drowned at 17 and the rest have passed on with age. Yet, despite being older and bound to a wheelchair, her home rotating every week, she is alert and lively, full of smiles and great stories. We kept asking her about how they slept in the house (three beds in one room) and who did the laundry (every other day).
She had seven children, four boys and three girls. Two of her boys died from muscular dystrophy. It’s talked about as if it was nothing, just a fact of life. “That boy just couldn’t walk right,” Lizzie’s mother said. “Kept falling all the time. That’s how we found out.” People are born, live, and die. That’s life.
Lizzie lives in a modern house with the most beautiful flowers bordering the front wall. If you praise Lizzie, she flushes and will say, “Danke but they are no prettier than anyone else’s, I’m sure.” Amish modesty.
They have solar panels on the roof which power a kitchen light, bathroom light, and toaster oven. They also have air conditioning which they are permitted to use when the mother stays with them. I asked her whether she was tempted to sneak it on during the recent heat wave and she laughed, an open, friendly, full of life laugh. “Oh no,” she said. “Someone might see it and tell the bishop.” I asked her how they would know. “Well, the windows would be down and they would certainly wonder why!” Even the Amish have to watch their backs, I suppose.
She worries that solar energy might be banned in the future as it does afford more luxury for the Amish. But that day is a few years off, she adds.
Well, I best be running along, getting ready to play hooky from church with my Amish neighbors. I’ll let you know how the shoo-fly pie is!