Sunday, November 9, 2008


This might be a good time to become Amish, what with the economy sluggish and money so tight. I got the idea when I attended a conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, recently, and fell in love with the plain and simple life there. What a contrast to the not-so-simple life I seem to be living here in the Tri-Valley.

Arriving at the tiny village of Bird-in-Hand, I felt as if I’d stepped back in time—1743 to be exact. As I passed open buggies filled with Amish families and clapboard homes lit only by candlelight, I wondered what it would be like not having to worry about the price of gas and electricity any more.

Instead of trying to choose an appropriate outfit each day, wouldn’t it be great if I could just wear jeans and a t-shirt all the time? Instead of heading to the bathroom mirror for my “beautifying” regimen, wouldn’t it be great if I could face the world without a dozen makeup products? Instead of spending all my money on groceries, wouldn’t it be nice to pick up a dozen fresh eggs from the henhouse and make a salad from veggies in my garden.

I’d spend the day doing a little needlework instead of watching TV, eating freshly baked bread without getting heartburn, chatting with my neighbors over the back fence instead of using my cell phone. I might even raise a barn or two.

In Bird-in-Hand, while life is plain and simple, dining is heavy and hearty. At the Good ‘n Plenty Restaurant, the Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant, or the Bird-in-Hand Smorgasbord, you can take in a thousand calories at each meal.

For breakfast you’ll find such tummy fillers as “Baked Casserole” (no idea what’s actually baked), “Dried Beef Gravy,” and “Shoofly Pie.” For lunch, you have a choice of “Ham Balls,” “Creamed Turkey and Waffles,” or “Mac and Cheese,” with a slice of Shoofly Pie. And for dinner, try the “Pork and Sauerkraut,” “Chicken and Biscuits,” and “Bread Filling,” with Shoofly Pie for dessert. And what is Shoofly Pie? A staple in the Amish Country, it’s made from molasses, brown sugar, and shortening. Add another thousand calories.

If you can still move after a meal like that, there’s plenty to do for entertainment. Take a buggy ride, tour an Amish farm, get your clock repaired, or buy archery supplies. The shops are filled with Amish products—quilts, country furniture, Shoofly Pies, even hex signs to keep away evil.

We opted for the Amazing Corn Maize Maze to work off ten pounds of Shoofly Pie. A corn maze, if you haven’t done one, is fun for about fifteen minutes. The Amazing Maze encompasses five acres with over two and half miles of paths—most which lead nowhere, much like the Winchester Mystery House. I gave up after a good hour. My husband made it through the entire thing in two hours, finished the interactive puzzle along the way, while I ate corn on the cob and fudge. Good for him.

By the end of our trip, I was beginning to miss my busy life back home. If I changed to the simple life, that would mean I’d have to give up watching “House” and “Saturday Night Live.” I wouldn’t be able to call my kids several times a day to find out “What’s new?” I couldn’t sit and enjoy the newspaper over a hot latte and Cinnabon. (Closet thing I can find to Shoofly Pie—and not as fattening...)

As complicated as it is, I think I’ll keep this life. I’m better at raising the roof than raising a barn.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you imagine what it will be like for Connor Westphal to visit Amish country?


November 12, 2008 at 7:42 AM  

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