â€œWell, that was a moment I never thought Iâ€™d have,â€ I said as my husband and I backed out of the gravel driveway.Â I shut off my cellphone and tucked it back in my purse.Â â€œYeah, he seemed more into taking than giving didnâ€™t he?â€ my husband responded.Â I looked out our car window and watched as the line of shirts, pants, and dresses danced on the Amish clothesline.Â Nearby the familyâ€™s extensive garden set a rural, homespun tone with straight rows and weed-less perfection.Â Behind a barn a horse relaxed as flies buzzed in a frenzied choreography.Â Pulling out onto the highwayâ€”from dirt road to paved convenienceâ€”I pondered the strange and delicate balance the Amish must live on a daily basis.
Vacationing in western Minnesota, the cabin weâ€™d rented for the week was cozy and just a stoneâ€™s throw from a lake.Â (We are the state of at least 10,000 of those blue bodies of water after all.)Â Shortly after our arrival we discovered an Amish family would be visiting the resort area between 6 and 6:30 p.m. with fresh bread, jams, homemade butter, rugs, and baked goods.Â Our mouths watered just thinking about it.Â I asked the resort owner if there was an Amish community in the area and she told me there was, which surprised me.Â Over the years Iâ€™ve become accustomed to thinking of Amish groups in the southeastern part of Minnesota, as well as a smattering in central Minnesota, but for some reason never thought of them in a area thickly populated by resorts.
A few days later my husband and I decided to drive around and visit a couple of the Amish farms.Â The resort owner provided a map of families with goods to sell and we headed off knowing weâ€™d sample a life complex with the past, present, and future.
Our second stop was at a farm where the father made gorgeous cedar chests and other small furniture such as childrenâ€™s rockers and step stools.Â A sign on an outdoor structure indicated where the â€œshowroomâ€ was located.Â As we entered the humble building I knocked and called out, â€œHello?â€ but nobody answered.Â We ooâ€™d and ahhâ€™d Â as we inspected the chests, appreciating the craftsmanship and extremely reasonable prices.Â A few minutes later the Amish father entered the building.Â â€œI suppose you were waiting for me?â€ he said.Â In his hands was a bowl brimming with vanilla ice cream Â drizzled with a jeweled splash of raspberry sauce.
Iâ€™ve met numerous Amish men and women over the years and, like any other living being, find them all over the map when it comes to personality. Â Sometimes I think my romantic notions of the Amish hinder my expectations. Â This fellow wasnâ€™t into eye contact, and his deep voice was surprisingly quiet.Â My husband told him that, as a fellow woodworker, he thought the chests were excellent.Â The farmer nodded, and then said, â€œDo you have a cell phone?â€Â Startled, my husband did his routine pant, then shirt, pocket-slap, and discovered he did not have his cellphone.Â I went to our car and came back with mine.Â â€œAre you in a hurry?â€ the farmer said. â€œI have a couple business calls to make.â€Â I told him to take his time.Â As he was attending business a woman drove in and purchased a number of just-plucked ears of corn.Â My husband and I milled around the shop trying not to eavesdrop.
After the farmer was finished with my cellphone he handed it back and said to my husband, â€œWhat do you do?â€Â My husband said he was a dentist.Â The farmerâ€™s eyes grew large.Â â€œDo you pull teeth?â€
â€œAs few as possible,â€ my husband said.
â€œWould you pull my childrenâ€™s teeth?â€ was the farmerâ€™s comeback. â€œWe donâ€™t have insurance.â€
I noted the waves of emotion crossing my husbandâ€™s face.Â On the one hand he is always willing to help a person in need, but on the other hand pulling teeth is not in his DNA.Â Saving teeth is.
â€œNo,â€ my husband said, but with softness.
The farmerâ€™s shoulderâ€™s slumped a bit.Â â€œI suppose youâ€™d want x-rays, uh?â€
My husband affirmed that would be at least what heâ€™d need, and that his office wasÂ 2 Â½ hours away.Â Â The farmer looked down, apparently thinking.Â A moment later he handed my husband a sheet of paper listing his goods.Â My husband thought he was simply sharing his product price list in case we were ever in the market for a cedar chest, or knew someone who was.
â€œCould you make a bunch of copies of this and mail it back to me?â€ said the farmer.Â It was all my husband could do not to laugh out loud.
â€œSure,â€ said my husband, and headed for the car with quick steps.Â We were both quiet as we drove back to our cabin.Â We were surrounded by uncountable things we take for grantedâ€¦electricity, refrigeration, fast transportation, technology, phones, and healthcare to name a few.Â We came away from our visit to the Amish with jelly, honey, a basket, and a rug.Â But we also came away with a deeper appreciation for those who live with less, and yet, with intrinsically more too.
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