Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Country Chronicles II: In The Land Of Women
A long awaited 2nd edition of a weekend adventure; this life is so busy, I've NO TIME to be busy!
"A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until she gets in hot water" Eleanor Roosevelt
If I think about my journey--the entirety of it, not just a weekend's worth--I realize this: the common thread binding it all....are women. Yes. Women. Strong women. Loud, outrageous and courageous women. Through all of the states I've traveled, they have been friends, co-conspirators, cheerleaders. A million mothers am I blessed with. Don't get me wrong--there have been husbands, sons, brothers. But the ones that got me there--from Iowa, Illinois, Florida...and even now in PA, are women. They have seen me through everything.
Tina Sams and her sister Maryanne, are no different. When I last left you, we had just left another amazing woman, Sarah Preston, who had seen me audition to teach dance at her radiant shoppe, Radiance. I was amazed also, to know, that she has gotten her first hive, an AMISH made one, and would I like to teach classes? Why yes, that I would. We talk about apiary matters, for some moments, but soon enough, Tina and Maryanne have me whisked away.
There is much to do. They have soap orders to deliver to the historic Landis Valley Museum. But first, we rush across the cobblestone street, and over to the large historic Market right in Lancaster City's square.
The place is hopping. Throngs of people walk or dally in front of various farm stands, kiosks and other shoppes that occupy a huge open floor plan. Everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING but the kitchen sink is in here. A Doggie bakery brushes against a blown glass stand, and sweet shoppes display mouth watering calorie whoppers. An Ethiopian deli neighbors a little quilt stand where a be-kerchiefed Amish grandma steadily sews--on sight--as quilted bags, purses, potholders, and more harken to another time.
I am overwhelmed...in a delighted way! Too much good food and good vibes over the loud and happy din of busy shoppers supporting local farmers and artisans....just what a gal like me likes to see. We don't have time to dally--we are still due at the museum, but Tina and Maryanne buy soft pretzels from a happy vendor and she laughs at our jokes. They kindly offer me one....tasty stuff!
Then we are off, piled into Maryanne's car. We talk about the neighborhoods we are passing, and the two share a bit of history about Landis Valley. Seems that two antique-farm collecting brothers had gotten themselves tons of old farm equipment, and these eventually became the foundation of Landis Valley. Basically, the place is a beautiful historic property with buildings, structures, and more based on old Dutch/German farms. There are driving horses (more on this later), an heirloom seed project, and lovely old buildings and shoppes.
Soon enough, we pull into the main gift shoppe, which looks like a beautiful old Shaker saltbox construction. Inside, the ladies talk with the shoppe owner whilst I peruse the goods for sale. Beautiful redware pie plates, figurines, and even Christmas ornaments glint at me from shelves. Old woven rag rugs, beeswax candles, tin candle holders and treenware are for sale, as are handmade brooms, woolen items and other primitive wonders. I was in love. Tina shows me upstairs where tolle-ware, free hand cut out pictures (a Pennsylvania tradition), and more beautiful items awaited. I wondered how I could stow away, to permanently be surrounded by this beauty.
Soon enough, the handmade soap was offered up, and we were off...but not before we went to the main desk. My lovely benefactors wanted to MAKE SURE that I spoke with someone about the horse driving program. Tina was sure I could volunteer with the horses, but I had no luck on the phone, getting permission to do this. The girl at the front desk, though baby-faced, was tenacious. She gave us THREE different numbers, and was sure I would get a response. I thanked her profusely, impressed by her spirit of helpfulness. Since it was the weekend, I would pursue the matter once Monday hit.
From there, we hit the local burger joint....but there was nothing ordinary about it (though I dare say now, my old-age memory fails me for a name!). The menu didn't sling greasy meat and potatoes...nosiree! This place was high-falutin': an interesting assortment of burgers--including vegetarian fare...and sides, were the name of the game. In fact, we had spicy fried mushrooms for a side, and I had a burger made of CHICKPEAS, with cucumber and a toasty bun. Maryanne, I remember, had a sort of apple crisp between two pieces of toasted bread. An unusual meal, with great conversation.
After that, and a moment at Tina's house, we did a most usual AND unusual thing...they actually honored my request to just drive around the countryside which, by luck, was their neighborhood. Yes, mightily exciting stuff, right? But, indeed, THAT, to me, was exciting. I remember--too, at some moment--both mentioning how they hadn't realized, in some time, how lovely and lucky they were. I suppose when you've lived in a place long enough, you will find a thing very mundane. I could say the same thing about the large city which I lived in--it's interesting to see excitement through a tourist's eyes, I suppose.
But truly--we went past yellow corn fields, plummeting roads that overswept old white centurian barns...zoomed past lowing black and white cows, past fields and fields of weeds that had names by people a century ago. We joked every time a saw a horse that I'd grab one and fling it in the back seat of the car. We laughed and told stories. We rounded bends with streams, watched hawks and crows dive, and...and...
We took a sharp corner past a corn field and on the other side, my heart stopped...there on the other side of a field, stood a kid--maybe fourteen or fifteen. And he was standing on a harrow, pulled by two drafts and a mule! Foolish, indeed, but I literally yelled out with excitement...for what person like me sees such a thing this close with her own eyes. Actually, what of ANY of it had I seen. Every moment was a picture perfect post card, seared into my head...for eternity and a day...and here I was, with two new women friends, to share it all....
And there was still more to come....