When you drive through most Amish settlements, you’ll see massive front porches with benches and benches. If you ride around after dinner, you’ll see Amish folk seated there and no one is working. No one staring into a bowl of peas that need shelling. Men aren’t out there with their tools trying to fix something. No, they are looking at each other, communicating. In a day of text messages begging for our every beck and call, it’s sad that this is a nostalgic thing: people sitting on their front porches, sipping lemonade and talking. Face to face.
On one of my many trips to Smicksburg, I went past Lydia’s, (Katie Byler in my book, Knit Together) and saw her little family on the front porch making ice cream. I didn’t want to intrude, but they earnestly waved for me to come join them. So I did and I’ll never forget it. Lydia’s husband, John, and her step-daughter, Ida, were yapping up a storm, and I joined in. They commented on birds seen at their hummingbird feeder that hung nearby, the peeper frogs that sang a deafening song in their nearby pond…just small talk. John asked me if I knew of a place to buy cheese in bulk for their store, but quickly caught himself as it was after business hours. It was ice cream and family time.
When I got home, I did a little experiment. What if I sat on my front porch and just relaxed? It could be a refuge from daily concerns, a little haven. So after dinner, Tim and I sat on our little portico for a little while, and notice things we hadn’t before. The red-tailed hawk that lives in the meadow across the street was being chased by crows. Hummingbirds sucking nectar from our rhododendron bush in blossom. Then we saw something that slowly appeared after the drizzle subsided. A rainbow. We would have missed it if we had been looking down at laptops and cell phones.
Once again, the Amish make me reevaluate my life, and Tim and I now use our front porch often.
|Lydia's front porch. Notice the benches on the right stacked on top of each other for additional seating.|