A summer visit– Part 2

June 18, 2010 at 3:04 am 2 comments

Rachel invited us into her home.  We stepped over the threshold of the front door,  into a sitting room, with another room to the right. The front room held a stove at one end that I guessed might be used to heat the room in winter. A number of wooden chairs and rocking chairs stood around the room in a sort of circular fashion, some with cushions. Fine wooden cabinets lined the wall and what looked like a treadle sewing machine cabinet sat under one window. A tall cabinet occupied the end wall by another window. Bright sunlight spilled through the tall windows on which a  rectangle of dark blue cloth was tacked at the top corners of each one, with the cloth pulled to one side  over a hook or nail to let the light in.

The floor appeared to be hardwood, finely crafted and very clean. The other girls were seated, and I was about to sit on a bench, but Rachel said to sit on one of the chairs. I found the remaining rocking chair and asked if that’s where she wanted to sit.

“It’s my husband’s chair,” she answered, but said that it was okay to sit there.

A wooden rack on the wall held decorated cards that perhaps were a gift, along with a few papers, decorated with minimal artwork rather than photographs, all arranged as neatly as the furniture. Every piece of furniture seemed to have its place and was aesthetically pleasing in a plain sort of way.

Conversation began a bit slowly, but Rachel asked about what we do, about our families, and also about other classmates. It was then that I discovered she had gone to several different schools as the school districts changed and the one-room school houses that were full were emptied into other schools with a smaller population. Rachel had gone to Tavistock school, Facey’s school and eventually Hickson school, so the friends gathered there that day represented three different schools.

At one point, Rachel excused herself to check on the cheese she was making. When she returned, she said she didn’t know if it would turn out. We learned she used rennet in milk that she was heating, and that she was making havarti cheese. Diane, making conversation, said that kind was her favourite cheese.

We had visited for perhaps an hour when her three grandchildren appeared at the windows. Shy of the strangers at their grandmother’s house, they peeked in and finally, overcome by curiosity, they opened the door and hovered nearby. They were coming for a cookie, as they often did. They were all barefoot.  Rachel asked them something in German, and they answered with a nod of the head or a few words. They disappeared out the door for a short time and ate their cookies. Rachel said they didn’t speak English, but they would learn it in school.

Eventually, they came in the door one at a time, headed for their grandmother, one sitting on her lap, the other two stading on either side of her but very close.

The little girl, tall for a five-year-old, is slim like her mother, Rachel said. The girl wore her black bonnet, covering her blonde hair, making her fair complexion look even paler. Her plain dark purple dress was long and straight without the apron that the adult women wear. The three year old boy wore his dark brown hair in the typical Amish style, his bangs  cut straight across with longer hair around his head, but cut neatly around the back, with his ears covered. He wore the Amish style black pants and coloured shirt while the youngest boy wore a long dress like his sister.  The smallest one, another boy, wore the same hairstyle, but his light brown hair looked like he’d just gotten up from his nap and hadn’t had his hair combed, or perhaps his fine hair refused to be tamed, like the fair hair of one of my children. The children’s mother had a bad headache that day, as Rachel said, and perhaps little energy to tame his hair that day.

Unlike the clothing Rachel wore as a young girl and even now, with straight pins for fasteners, the children had buttons on the back of their clothing. Some things change, in spite of their spartan living.

The children soon were a little more relaxed, going out the door, coming back in, shutting one another out, as other kids do.  When Rachel served tea and  a dessert, the children tasted some too, but from her dish, with her spoon, this after having a cookie when they had first arrived. The small one ate most.  His grandmother said he had a big appetite, and we guessed  he was getting ready for a growth spurt.

The dessert, a strawberry filling with whipped cream over pieces of chocolate cake, was delicious. I asked how she made it. “I just used my strawberry pie recipe,” she answered.   One of the girls asked what she used for thickening. “Cornstarch,” she answered. The little one wanted more, so he came to the dish sitting on a small table Rachel had set the dessert on. Rachel brought the plate and I served him a small amount, as I would to any other young child. He ate it like he had a hollow leg.

Come back again for a continuation…


Entry filed under: friendship, relationships. Tags: .

A summer visit– Part 1 Flowers in bloom

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Carolyn Stearns  |  July 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    We have Amish friends in Penn. and do much of our dairy and equipment business down there. Good people wherever they are! We do have much in common. Carolyn

    • 2. storygal  |  July 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm

      Thanks, Carolyn. Some of our Amish people returned to Pennsylvania. Yes, they are good people.


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