If you have never taken the time to take a tour of Amish country, and you are looking for a fun, entertaining and educational activity for a crisp fall day, I highly suggest you take one.
While living in Rochester, I had heard about the Amish community and that was about it. After moving to Lanesboro in 2009, it was clear that getting accustomed to seeing Amish horse-drawn buggies would be a must. The Amish were shrouded in mystery for the first few years I lived here, but eventually I began to see them frequently and began to exchange glances and hellos.
When The Granary was open, I was able to observe their participation in the Farmers Market, how they sold produce and eggs to restaurants, and where they “parked” their horses.
It was not until this year that I really got to know an amazing Amish family, and I am so thankful I did. One of the inns I do virtual work for hires a matriarch and two daughters from the same family to do the housekeeping. In order to get them to work and back, they need to be driven. This is a task I handle on occasion, and it has given me the opportunity to ask questions, lots of questions, probably much to their chagrin.
The first time I brought them to the inn, the car was quiet … too quiet. Anyone who knows me knows this is not in my nature. I like to talk, and I like to ask questions. Let me tell you, I formulated question after question, and now those car rides are full-on discussions. If one of the two girls could not help with the housekeeping, their mom accompanied me, and I am not too certain she didn’t want to tell me to “shut up” after the first ride.
As the rides became more comfortable, so did my line of questioning. I have learned that this family settled in the home they are in back in 2000. It was her parents’ home, and they have a bakery and furniture shop on site. Her husband has a huge woodshop where he makes furniture for sale and custom orders. Four of their five kids can run the shop, interact with customers and handle orders.
The day I went inside the shop for the first time is the day I knew I would never have to go anywhere else to purchase a birthday present for family members. The variety of jams, jellies, pickles, salsas, and hand-sewn items would delight everyone!
One of those jelly flavors was elderberry, a childhood favorite. Not sure of the answer I would receive, I took the risk and asked if I could help with the jelly making process. With a curious look in her eye, “mom” told me yes.
Two days ago we picked several 5-gallon pails of elderberries; I also discovered the hard way their scissor sharpening skills are spot on. It took a full wrapping of my pinky finger and several minutes of sitting down before I was ready to pick again. The next day, I was honored to be invited into their home and given a tour before we started making jelly. I was shown the ropes and am hopeful the six jars that were given to me will taste as delicious as I remember.
One hour was the length of my lesson, and what I learned about this family was amazing. I could never stand in front of their stove — it was a beautiful stove — and make all the products she does for their store. She and her daughters have the patience it takes and the passion to keep doing it. It left me in awe of their work ethic, and am genuinely thankful for the kindness shown someone who talks way too much.