Many years ago, I had two fascinations: the Mafia and the Amish. Since then, I have matured tremendously. I am now only fascinated with the Amish. In fact, I love them. I have loved them longer than there've been fishes in the ocean. Higher than any bird ever flew. Longer than that Dan Folgelberg song will be stuck in your head now.
And as luck and job offers would have it, I live ridiculously close to the Amish now. Which means that God has finally answered my daydreams. Which also means that I have spent quite a bit of time over the past year stalking befriending them.
Things didn't really start progressing in our friendship until we stopped at an Amish roadside stand in June on our way to Hershey Park. I purchased a powdered, filled donut for 50 cents, took a bite and had a religious experience. I'm not kidding.
Over the summer, we headed out to visit them and partake of their divine baked goods and fresh produce every available Saturday morning. We'd get a couple of twenties out of the ATM and drive out to their luscious landscape and return home with a trunkful of treasures: cakes, pies, breads, jams, oats, watermelon, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, pretzels, smoked chicken, onions, cookies, donuts, squash, zucchini, and handmade soaps. We'd drive along the roads and marvel at the horse-drawn buggies and the little Amish kids riding old-fashioned scooters.
"I want one of those scooters!" I exclaim almost every time we see one. There's a store that has them for sale out front.
"What would you do with one?" Ryan asks.
"I don't know, but I really want one." I say.
We stop at the same places every time, individual farms with simple wooden stands stocked with their extremely inexpensive offerings. The stands are only open on Saturdays and are manned by the family's children. The children are bashful, polite, and sweet as they answer my questions about this or that. Many times I bite my tongue before I blurt out, "And how much for one of you little Amish kids? Just for a week?" Somehow I feel it's inappropriate, even though I know that we would have a great time together eating bean burritos and watching YouTube videos and turning light switches on and off.
Saturday afternoon we headed out again with my sister-in-law and niece who are visiting. We took them to our regular stops and filled our arms with freshly baked cookies, pies, and soft white bread that is made out of butter, flour, and God's pure love. As I handed over my few dollars, I realized for the first time that the girl recognized me. Did you get that? The Amish KNOW ME! She didn't say anything, but she looked at me with familiar eyes; eyes that said, "I know this lady and I like her, even though I think she secretly wants to rent me for a week."
My heart went pitter-pat.
At the next stop, we purchased homemade root beer, potato chips, and a dozen fresh brown eggs. Oh, and one more thing--hot sauce. I bought Amish hot sauce. Wrap your mind around those three words together: Amish hot sauce. Is that even allowed?! I mean, it seems a little scandalous.
Next, we pulled into the drive of one of our favorite farms and got out to select from their crops. The older brother was there and a little sister too. We looked at the crook-neck pumpkins together and I tried to decide if I could actually attempt cooking one. An older girl came skipping out of the house, barefoot. She's helped us a few times before (once she offered me an extra bag for my corn on the cob) and she seemed excited to join us. We exchanged hellos. The older boy asked me where we're from and I told him, but I know he's never heard of it before. I wondered to myself how far his imagination can take him outside of this world. And if he's ever had a bean burrito. I got in the car after purchasing two little watermelons and squealed with delight, "They know me! They remember me! WE'RE FRIENDS!"
Ryan is used to this. "I know," he said.
We headed toward home, driving away from the simple life, eating homemade cookies, potato chips and cold, bottled Amish root beer. My sister-in-law and niece were caught up in the sugary/buttery/homemade Amish high too. But I was a little more high than they were, because I was high on Amish friendship.
"I'm friends with the Amish," I told them seventeen times.
"I know," they said.
"And I know where I would ride my Amish scooter," I said after a while.
"Where?" asked Ryan.
"Right here in Amish country with all my Amish friends. We're friends, you know."
"I know," he said.
We are. We're tight.