Horse and Buggy In The Snow

The other day when our power was out, I thought of your Amish neighbors and how it didn’t affect them at all.  Today when I watched one of their horse and buggy’s go by in the snow, I thought of us digging out our cars and waiting for Mike to plow our driveway.

A couple of weeks ago Jon and I visited Barbara and Moise in their new house.  I was eager to see it.

The outside of the house is unfinished, but the makeshift steps lead onto the porch and to the front door which opens up into the kitchen. It takes up half the first floor.

Fanny was at the wood cookstove.  She opened the oven door and pulled out a chicken she was roasting.  I had to remind myself that they didn’t buy it at Hannaford.  It smelled delicious.

Then Lena and Fanny gave me the full tour.

The first thing they showed me was the laundry room.  It’s built off the back of the house and is as big as the kitchen.  There was a big metal barrel for heating the water.  Two metal barrels with agitators that are run by kerosene.  And two more metal barrels with hand ringers on them.

I did wonder why if they can run the agitators with kerosene, they couldn’t just run a regular washing machine with kerosene.  But I felt it would have been somehow rude to ask.

From there we went into the basement.

The shelves aren’t up yet, but the whole floor was covered in jars of food.  Sausage and bologna from their recently slaughtered pig and cow in one section and colorful fruits and veggies in another.  There was also an area with a gravel floor instead of cement floor, which will be the cold storage room for potatoes, onions, and apples.

Enough food to last for a whole year.

We took the still unfinished stairs to the second floor where the bedrooms are. Each room has a  bed or two with a black, blue, purple, and red quilt on it.  There was a simple dresser and a closet.  On top of the dressers were a few blue cut glass bowls and dishes.  These are gifts given to the girls who will take with them when they marry.

The smaller stairs led to the third floor with its tall ceiling and sloping attic roof.   Sarah and Joe sat at small desks.  Workbooks open, pencil in hand, they both turned and smiled at me.   The schoolroom is also a guest room with a bed nestled in the corner opposite the desks.

Their older sister Barbara is their teacher and she asked me to sign a logbook.  I wrote the date my name and my birthdate in it.

Sarah and Joe waved goodbye as we made out way back to the first floor.  There I saw the pantry, parlor and Barbara and Moise’s bedroom.

The house with its big south-facing windows and bare white wall was bright even on that cloudy day.  And even the schoolroom on the third floor was warm.  It’s all heated by the stoves on the first floor, the heat rising up the stairwells and through the ceilings and floors. That the house is very well insulated makes all the difference.

There’s a simplicity and uniformity to the house and I imagine most of the other Amish houses in the area look similar.  But there was also a very homey feeling.   Lena and Fanny were as delighted to show me around as I was to see it all.

Part of that delight is my interest in old houses.   The Amish houses are in some way living museums. They live in a similar way to the people who built our farmhouse lived there.

But I also feel a connection to the girls who I’ve worked with, Lena, Fanny, Barbara and Sarah.  We are much more different than we are alike and yet there’s a place we overlap.

Maybe it’s in our work ethic.

Even though I have never, and hope to never spend a whole day doing laundry, I do understand the relentlessness of “Women’s Work”. And when they show me the work they do, even though much of it as alien to me as it would be to a man, they expect I will understand and appreciate it.

And  I do.

I also greatly appreciate that the kind of work women traditionally have done is not something I have to do. I’m grateful that I can spend my days inside my studio, which is about a quarter the size of that laundry room, by myself doing what choose.

One thought on “Horse and Buggy In The Snow

  1. When we first moved to Northern Delaware we explored Amish country and visited the displayed Amish home and farm. Your writing here brings back this memory so well. This particular home was, if I remember rightly, unlived in but opened for all visitors, by a much more liberal Amish community.
    I am very much enjoying your frequent video clips and I am sure that many, many others are doing the same, but your innate privacy restrains us from jumping in with comments–wild or awful or friendly as the case may be.

    1. I apprecaite that Erika. I know some of my videos are “slow” by that I mean they may take longer to process than some of my more obvious videos. Now that you mention it, I do like the quiet around them.:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Full Moon Fiber Art