When we stayed in Hershey in September, Kate and I spent a day driving around the Amish countryside near Intercourse, and it was one of my favorite days on this trip (see Amish in Intercourse). It was sunny and warm, and farmers were out harvesting corn fields with teams of horses. Kids were walking home from one-room schoolhouses. And there were buggies everywhere.
I feel inexplicably drawn to this conservative and religious community, and when we came back to the area, the first thing I did was go on a long bike ride all around the countryside. This time, the corn was all harvested, but farmers were still busy turning the fields, harvesting pumpkins, and preparing for winter. Kids in bonnets and straw hats played tag in schoolyards. And the trees were all bursting with color. Of course I took my camera with me, even though stopping for photos while on my bike was a little more conspicuous that from a car window.
This time we stayed at the Circle M RV Resort near Lancaster. It wasn’t till the end of our stay that Kate and I drove back to Intercourse to spend another day wandering the countryside, this time in the car. We stopped at a couple of quilt stores for Kate, and had lunch at Fischer’s restaurant, a place out in the country that serves Amish food to tourists. It was nearly empty when we were there at 2:00, and we gorged ourselves on a buffet of cheesy potatoes, fried chicken, meatloaf, stewed tomatoes, creamy coleslaw, and corn fritters… topped off by an ice cream peanut butter pie!
While we let that rich, heavy food digest, we roved rolling country roads and enjoyed the beautiful day. Stopped to watch a field full of frolicking piglets and their moms. Bought produce at a farm stand. Chatted with Amish shopkeepers. Drove by children walking home from school, people riding push-scooters (never bikes), buggies on the road, and horses in the field.
It all seemed so idyllic on this sunny afternoon. Yet if I had been born into an Amish family, I would have faced a difficult choice as a young adult: deny my sexuality and any love I felt for another woman or be exiled from the family and community that had sheltered me from the outside world my entire life. This awareness tinges my romantic fascination with the Amish. But things change, even with the Amish, and I can only hope that as the outside world’s attitude toward gays and lesbians changes, theirs will soften as well. Maybe they already have in small ways.