THE ADVENTURE OF SIMPLE THINGS
Today, I am at the lake house, and as I have mentioned to you before, this is in northern Indiana, in the very heart of Amish country. It seems like a time warp, no matter how many times I come here.
Today, I watched out the window of the passenger seat of the car, as we drove to our destination, which was an Amish cheese store. I watched as the Amish children played outdoors, kicking a ball, which resembled a game of soccer. I noted that no uniforms were needed, some of the kids had shirtsleeves, some had coats, some had gloves, but most did not. There were no adults yelling instructions to the kids, no goal posts, no equipment other than the ball. What I noticed was how happy they all seemed.
Outdoor signs read: Apples…and as I looked down the driveway it was the same as when the produce was abundant. No cash registers, no tellers, no monitoring for honesty. Just a coffee can to put your money in and some bags to carry your purchase home.
I saw an elderly man on a bike who was peddling into the wind. He had a beard that came to the bottom or his chest. He seemed mindless to what had to be discomfort from the cold. A little while later, I saw a clothesline with a row of clothes hung out to dry. I wondered if they would freeze stiff or if they would really dry. My mother would know. I made a mental note to ask her. We came to an old brick nickel-and-dime store that had concrete steps slumped slightly in the middle, bringing me to mind a store like it in Hume, Illinois, where my grandmother lived. The weight of years of boots and shoes wore the concrete to a slight slope in the middle of each step. “Soda fountain” was written on a sign in the window. I imagined all the people, both English (that’s us) and Amish who have trod those steps getting building supplies and playing checkers at a table just inside and to the right.
Two kids were in a small cart hitched to a pony trotting down the side of the road. Cows and horses were gathered, some eating from a bale of hay, and some hunkered down, it seemed, to escape the cold. We came across a snowman and a snow puppy that had been built in a yard. I smiled, remembering my youth when snow meant playing out in the snow and building forts and snowmen. How seldom we see them now, having been replaced by all the computer games and technical stuff the kids seem to have today.
I wish they could all know what it is like to come in after a cold day outside having exhausted themselves with all the play, building things in the snow, seeing their breath in puffs as they breathe. At our house, our mother would have hot chocolate waiting for us. Not the kind we make now, but the kind she made from scratch in a pan on the stove. Then she would pour it into cups and put a marshmallow on top. We would take tiny sips, so as not to burn our lips. The sun would make the snow sparkle like a million diamonds.
Remember what it was like to be the first one to make footsteps in the snow? What great adventures snow would bring. Makes me think that we should go backwards in time. Well, instead we just go forward on the treadmill of life. But today brings a fresh reminder of what is important, and how simple it all really is.
It brings a humble peace to live among the Amish. It reminds me that we don’t need much to have peace of mind, and to relish each day. Just like the Amish kids don’t need anything but a ball to play soccer.
And so it is, season after season. A quiet solitude is a gift in itself. To be part of the everyday things that make up a day, and to welcome a new season is a blessing.
Many good thoughts to my Waynedale friends. I hope the kids are out making snowmen and playing Fox and Goose in the snow.