While in eastern Ohio for the Huff Family Reunion, I spent a good deal of time touring the rolling amish country hillsides with my Grammalo (my dad's mom), my parents and my aunts and uncles.
Holmes county Ohio, the county adjacent to my grandma's hometown- Sugarcreek, has the largest Amish population in the world. My own grandma's father was Mennonite and so our family has some connection to the culture. Now, mostly, we enjoy purchasing Amish made baked goods and crafts.
We hit up a few little stores here and there. Some were much littler than others. Our first stop was a little Amish general store, meant for the Amish to shop in themselves- as opposed to hoards of tourists. Leave it to us "shopping pros" (I learned how to shop from my grammalo and aunts.) to break into the untapped Amish stores. The store featured Dutch New Testaments, adorable canisters of school supplies for individual purchase, tiny tiny leather shoes for tiny Amish babies, and enormous stock pots. There was also a necessary aisle toward the back with a stash of white cross-your-heart brasseries and 40 styles of stiff black bonnets. I didn't venture towards the men's aisle of undergarments, I didn't think it proper.
The next shop was Miller's Bakery. This two room, clapboard store is hidden up a hill of a twisting road with hardly a sign to mark it's existence. But the place was packed with customers both Amish and otherwise. Oh man, I wish I could have bottled the smell of this place for you. I had a raisin bar- which is really a chewy bread-y molasses cookie with raisins. My favorite. My mom and I got caught up in the back room, filled with local crafts. I love these clothespin bags. I don't have any clothespins, but what could I make one of these for? What other useful thing could it hold?
One larger store had built a business out of a petting farm in the parking lot. You could buy a waffle ice cream cone full of feed for a dollar and scatter the food amongst the goats, bunnies, horses and more. I snapped a couple shots of some cuddly animal families.
Often, when I am shopping on vacation, I focus on collecting craft ideas rather than filling my shopping basket. I hate to transport too much on the road. Besides, most things at crafty joints you could easily make for cheaper than retail. I love the felt details on this lampshade and the idea of making oversized buttons to hang as wall art. I'm not sure how I'd do it, but this plaid mirror has got to be possible to recreate in house. And how about those boot planters? Fun, right? Makes me want to find the tin man and decapitate him. (Okay, that was weird.)
Check out that beautiful lady above. That's my Grammalo. 82 years young and still climbing out onto her roof to sweep off the leaves. Sheesh. I hope I inherited a lot of her genes.
As we drove through the Amish farm country, it was notably quiet and peaceful. There were few electric posts to mar the horizon. As it was Monday, wash day, the yards were filled with lines of pastel dresses and shirts and dark pants and skirts, flapping in the wind. I admire the Amish life. They live simply and quietly always in community with others. Their "church" meets inside homes and shifts weekly. So open, so democratic. I know that even in their society there are faults and hiccups. Still, tonight, I envy their evening times. No screens to distract them from looking up at the night sky- no electric bulb in sight. The stars surely shine brighter in their country.