Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Last Friday, while other families were hitting the malls and braving the early morning sales, my family had its own version of Black Friday, at the Amish stores in southern Indiana. At one point there was even a crowd - two cars were already there when we pulled up.
It was the perfect outing for the day after Thanksgiving. We bundled up in blankets in the cold car, since the car never warmed up between our stops. Our first "store" was just off the highway, up and down a hill past donkeys and some baby sheep, past the Amish one-room school house and a field of corn shocks. We parked next to their red barn and waited for someone to come out of the house. Two smiling women in black dresses and white caps let us into their cold outer building where they kept the baskets made by five local families. They were all shapes and sizes, with signatures and dates handwritten on the bottom - tall ones and fat ones, large and small. And they were all so inexpensive we all had to get one.
The next stop was on the west side of the highway, farther in the country past a 90 degree curve and into a small valley. This one was an actual store, for the Amish, not for tourists. It had a squeeky wooden porch and a screen door with a sign that said "Fresh Bread and Baked Goods Today." Of course my uncle bought a loaf. We all looked at the bolts of dark fabric, the vials of herbal remedies, pots and pans and more baskets, all the while our footsteps sounded hollow on the wooden floor. My young cousins (and I) bought candies - peanut butter balls and fudge.
We hadn't planned to go to another store, but when we saw another "Baskets"
sign at a farm on the way home, our instincts told us to check it out. We turned into the drive, not sure where the goods were kept, and several faces peeked out at us from various doors and windows in the surrounding buildings. Finally a tall, thin, friendly girl welcomed us and gestured for us to follow her across the yard to a long building. On the way we passed a turkey loose in the yard who gobbled at us, the most thankful of birds on the day after Thanksgiving. We walked through the cedar-scented woodshop to where the baskets were kept, as well as benches, chairs, baby cradles, and more. Of course we had to buy more baskets.
We ended our outing at a gas station where we filled up and got hot chocolate for the short drive home.
For the past ten years, I have bought a basket from the Amish almost every time I've gone home, so my house is filled with them now. From where I sit typing with George on my lap, there are three within my sight. And they all remind me of those trips over the country roads with family.