Monday, October 24, 2011

MONDAY MUSINGS—Where Time Stands Still

The other night I was on my way to pick up my son from and evening class in town. As I was traveling down our paved two lane country road leading to town (7 miles away) I saw a strange sight up ahead on the side of the road. We’re smack dab in the country so there is no street lights at all, although you’ll find a few houses with lights on their electric poles. When it’s dark, it’s really dark.

I only caught glimpses of the red blinkers as I topped the rises in road and it was about a mile away when I first noticed them. I couldn't really be sure what it was—maybe a one of the farmers in the area out checking on the cattle and parked on the side of the road. As drew closer I saw it was a couple buggies of my Amish neighbors on their way home (I believe these two groups are part of a construction crew). I don’t often see the buggies at night. I had no idea they had flashing red lights on both front and back—not really bright ones, but blinkers never the less. They also had some sort of battery styled lanterns to light the road. Naturally, I slowed down to about 10 mph and turned my on my low beams. I’m sure the horses weren’t thrilled to have headlights hitting their eyes. They were tossing their heads and I could see the lead man holding them in pretty tight. I certainly didn’t want to spook them. That would be disastrous.  

There was that moment of feeling like I drove through a time portal (cue the theme from the Twilight Zone).

Horse and buggies isn’t an every day sight in most areas, unless you live in the country and have Amish communities nearby.

Did you know that Missouri has North America’s 7th-largest Amish population, with roughly 10,000 Amish? I didn't.

Missouri has attracted many Amish settlements in recent years.  We’ve added roughly two-dozen new settlements over the past two decades, averaging more than one new settlement per year.

We have a large community of Amish in Seymour, Webster County. Seymour is about 70 miles (114 km) from where I live. Any time I would go to Springfield, Missouri we’d pass through the area which has various shops the Amish sell their goods in—from foods, to quilts and of course furniture. You’ll find many a buggy or farm wagon trotting along the (deliberately designed) wide shoulders of US 60/63. Good thing the shoulders are wide considering that the traffic zips along the four-lane highway at speeds of 70-ish on most days. I admire their horses. They’re beautiful, strong and definitely road savvy—I’d be nervous walking on the shoulders of that highway.

Missouri is also home to a high percentage of small Amish communities. Closer to home, we have a small settlement in Raymondville (about thirty minutes away), established in 1985. You’ll see handmade signs advertising livestock, harness and tack makers, foods, and services offered by the Amish. There are several Amish construction crews that work in our area.

This is before the mill was completely renovated and a new
hitching post put in. 
Recently, we had several Amish families move into our immediate neighborhood and about four miles down our gravel country road. The original couple (and I believe they’re Swiss Amish) moved there about three years ago. There are now several families living there and I’m sure there will be others. I see them at our grocery store in town and know a few of the women enough to say hi. It’s not at all an unusual sight to see several horse and buggies at the hitching post at the old mill on the property next to the parking lot of the grocery store. You can almost imagine what it must have been like a hundred years ago.

My Danes set up a bit of a ruckus when one of the buggies or farm wagons passes by our house with large wheels crunching gravel—and horses of course. They pass by the house at least three or four times a week and the Danes are growing accustomed to them. But to my Danes minds, the horses belong in the pasture behind them and not on the road. If I’m out in the yard we’ll exchange waves. I’ve gotten to know some of the families—at least by sight and vise versa.

I’ve mentioned, more than once, that I live beyond the back forty—I’m not kidding when I say that. We’re far enough in the country that you don’t hear the traffic from Route 63—a main artery cutting through this part of the Ozarks—except on a cold winter night you can faintly hear the jack brakes on some of the semi-trucks. If you listen closely.

Time seems to slow down out here.

Today, with the autumn sun drenching the landscape and the wind blowing through the gold and red leaves of the trees. Birds flittering in the brush and the high-pitched call of the hawks hunting prey—it somehow seemed fitting to see a horse and buggy drive by.As they passed we exchanged a smile and wave set to the music of horses clip-clopping down the gravel road.


Isis Rushdan said...

Sometimes it is good to find a place where time stands still and just soak it all in. Life can be so hectic that it's easy to run our internal batteries down. Nice to see a lovely way to recharge.

Tonya Kappes said...

Here on the Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana border, we have several Amish communities. I love seeing them at McDonalds! YES! They do eat at McDonalds!! Plus there is a big crime right now that's very interesting to watch. Someone is going around the Amish while sleeping and cutting off the beards of the men. They have arrested a couple other Amish men and their mug shots are priceless. I know this doesn't go with your blog, but it was funny so I had to share.
I do enjoy watching them. I admire their slow-paced lifestyle.

Jo Wake said...

We have a lot of such communities around here, they are known as Mennonites. I believe there is a slight difference in their religious practices but to those of us who don't know they are very much the same. They sell their produce in the farmer's markets in the area. Their farm buildings are always a joy to behold as they are so well looked after.

Talli Roland said...

In southern Ontario, there are quite a few Mennonite communities who use buggies. I used to be fascinated by them. It is like going through a time portal, like you say.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Isis, it more relaxing out here.

I've lived in many places in the world and our last duty station was in Bay area of California. I can drive anywhere. But I have to tell you, when I turn off the main highway and hit our little country road, there's a feeling of relief. You can feel yourself unwind.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tonya, I read about that and saw a couple of the *mug* shots. Doesn't matter who you are, what religion you associate with, and hopefully live the tenets, there are those that don't and cause trouble.

I've seen them at our Sonic in town. Burgers and fries are the American way, LOL.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, we have menonites in the area as well. Some of them do choose to drive cars and have electricity some don't. Depends on their religious order.

I love their homemade goodies and produce. Right now they're making Apple butter. Yum.

Shirley Wells said...

It sounds as if you live in a wonderful part of the world. I live in the countryside too and I couldn't bear to be anywhere else. It's good to relax and unwind away from it all. :)

Apple butter. Oh yum!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd certainly feel like I'd stepped back in time!

Elle J Rossi said...

When I take the kids to Indiana to visit family, they really get a kick out of the horse and buggies. We have several Amish communities in that area and it really does make you feel like you've stepped back in time! At least you slowed down for them. So many don't!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Morning Sia!
I certainly didn't know that Missouri had such a large Amish population. Thanks for the interesting tidbit of info!

This summer, I took a vacation to a place that is firmly living in the past, Mackinac Island, Michigan! There are no motor driven vehicles on the island. All transportation is by bicycle or horse drawn carriage. We enjoyed our visit there so much! I hope I get to go back one of these days.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Amen Shirley. Those misty morns and sounds of wildlife get me every time.

Alex, there was that moment of disorientation when I came upon those two buggies. I could just picture the Rod Sterling's intro on it, too!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Elle I never play games with pedestrians, runners, bicyclists, or horses. I don't appreciate people who do. Share the road means just that.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Aunty sounds like a lovely place! There used to be a resort up on Highway 1 in Northern California, Timber Cove, which had no modern convenience hookups--even in the lounge at the main lodge. Electricity and plumbing, yes, but it was meant to disconnect you from the busy world. I loved it. There was no cell phone reception up there either. No ringing phones. no blaring music, or TVs.

I think it would be fun and relaxing to stay on an island such as you describe.