My Thoughts About One of My Favorite Places--Northeastern Indiana's Amish Country

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bee Meets the Amish

I have a niece whom I used to call “Bee.”  She’s a teenager now, but when she was young, she used to go to Amish Indiana with me every May, during May Fest weekend.  She enjoyed the food, the shops, the Saturday morning parade, and staying at a Bed & Breakfast.  One thing she wasn’t so sure about was my Amish friends.

One year when Bee was about six, we made our May trip.  During my usual visit with my Amish friends, we decided that Bee looked bored, just sitting with the grownups and listening to them talk.  My Amish friend Ruth called over her two youngest sons, who were about Bee’s age—perhaps a year or two older, but she was as tall as they were.  They were even less sure about Bee than she was about them…  Bee was shy, but they were even more so!  But I worked on Bee in English, while Ruth worked on her two boys in “Dutch” (Pennsylvania Dutch, a peculiar form of German that is the everyday spoken language of the Amish).  I would imagine we were saying the same thing—“Be nice and play with her/him.”  All three of the kids looked like they would rather not, but in the end, reluctantly, off the three of them went towards the barn.

Ruth and I sat down to continue our conversation.  A few minutes later we saw the pony cart fly by, with three happy kids in it—one "English" girl and two Amish boys.  They looked like they were having the time of their lives!  At one point they got up so much speed that they veered off course, broke through the rock border of the vegetable garden, left cart tracks curving through it, and then broke out the other side, rocks flying everywhere!  Later, they played with the animals, swung from the rope swing in the hay barn, and then headed for the special swing set featuring a hollow log with a ladder running up through the middle of it.  Bee told me later that at one point, they got so used to each other that one of the boys turned to her and asked her something in "Dutch."

Bee decided that day that the pony cart was her very favorite thing in Indiana, and she had many more pony cart rides in the years that followed.  And I was happy that my cross-cultural friendship with the Amish had gone down to the next generation.

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