Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Simple Kind of Life

I have fallen in love.  Not with a person, but with a place.  A place my heart could easily call home.  Lancaster County, PA.  I love Pennsylvania.  I love its rolling green hills, lush countryside and farms dotting the landscape.  There is something about Lancaster that really made me want to stick a For Sale sign on my house and start sending out Greg’s resumes to companies headquartered in this area like Hershey or maybe a pretzel company...
My heart longs to smell the country air and share the roads with a horse and buggy being driven by an Amish boy not older than my Grace.  I want to stick a sign on the side of the highway that says fresh eggs and have those eggs be mine.  I would love just a few acres, enough for that chicken coop and possibly an alpaca or two.  I want to hang my laundry out to dry and have the backdrop of the landscape be silos and picket fences.  I want to sit on my front porch every night and be witness to the dance of the fireflies.  Every Saturday morning I would head out to the tag sales where you can buy farm fresh ice cream for $1, a fresh head of lettuce for $.75 and pick up a stray cat or two. 

Just this weekend we were offered two.  I broke my heart to say no thank you.  But thank you kind person for offering...

In the midst of all this longing, there was also a great deal of wondering.  I am in awe of the Amish.  This is not the first time I have been to Lancaster, in fact I lived near Harrisburg for four years and frequented this part of PA often.  But not as an adult.  Not as a mother and a wife.  I am in awe of how this group of people have managed to maintain their cultural identity in the face of an ever-changing America. 

All the things my children take for granted are not part of the Amish vocabulary.  While their lives are far from easy, they are simple.  Farm and family.  From the conversations I have had with many this weekend and the observations of their family life, it is abundantly clear that they have not forgotten that the family is the root of our lives.  It is not all about the latest electronic gadget, or the newest and coolest car, or the new Disney show on tv or the most recent album that dropped on Tuesday.  It is about how the crop is going to do this year.  It is about the neighbor whose cow delivered two stillborn calves this morning.  It is about living off the grid and making sure the propane tank is filled before sundown.  It is about which farmer is organic, trying to make his corn grow as tall as his neighbor who kills the weeds with chemicals but may have in the process burned most of his whole crop.  It is about little boys selling homemade cookies and painted horseshoes to tourists like us who are touring his farm trying to comprehend what it would take for us to go back to a simple life.  It is about quilting parties and large families and young girls caring for younger girls who run around barefoot and never seem to cry. 
This is the kind of life that I think I long for.  I think this trip may have changed me a little bit more and pushed me a bit further in my thinking that simple is best.  Simple is not easy, as I have clearly learned this weekend.  But simple is honest and true and I think that a little bit more simplicity might make my whole family a whole lot happier.


  1. This is such a fabulous post! I have always wanted to go to Lancaster to see the Amish was of life in person. Your beautiful words resonate so deeply with me, and I look forward to the day we take our first trip there, though I am sure that I will return profoundly changed as well!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! I to find the Amish fasinating and dream of living a simpler life.

  3. Jess I love this so much. I too long for a simple life. I love what you say about it being simple but not easy. I am so looking forward to reading about your next few years journey. I know it is going to be awesome. The pictures are awesome. Did you just drive up there and get out and wander? It looks like you all had a wonderful time!

  4. I think there is something deep down in our rushed lives that hungers for a life of simplicity. Simplicity doesn't equal a life of leisure though and that is where some folks get lost in that desire.
    I have had a lifelong love affair with the Amish culture and going to Lancaster is on my bucket list.
    Did you find it is becoming commercialized though? Sometimes the busy and rushed life of the typical american can bleed over into a culture that prides itself in being separate.

    Faith on Fire

  5. What a great journey you are taking! I remember looking at all kinds of colleges in this area (in the end I decided it was too cold - what was I thinking?!?!). You look so happy!

  6. What a beautiful beautiful trip, and to a beautiful place no doubt! Haven't been there, but must, thanks to your pics. And how you said no to those darling kittens, I'll never know! You have much greater will power than I :).

  7. We really love the idea of being able to open the back door and let the kids run free. Maybe some day! I have a couple of Amish cookbooks that I love to dig out and look through - do they know how to cook good wholesome comfort food!! Enjoy your vacation.

  8. Yep, a trip like that will make the desire even worse. I spent a good part of an evening at the book store looking through hobby farm magazines and then at home reading blogs by those who have started the dream. My husband and I have the "simple life" bug, too. It can make you feel so unsettled. I hope yours comes true.

    I had to giggle...cause I have looked for places to send in Matt's resume as well. HA HA HA

    Yesterday we wanted to bring home this huge beautiful puppy...but we need more room. If we had the land he would have been ours. *sigh*


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