There are certain places I enjoy for certain reasons.
For family/nostalgia reasons, I like Walt Disney World. I love the interweaving of new memories around old memories in just about every corner.
For a quick respite, I like heading into NYC (I live a short 40 minute commuter train ride away) and spending the day on the upper west side—eating at my favorite breakfast place, walking around the park, and catching the sea lion show at the Central Park Zoo.
For a good old fashioned clearing of the mind, I’ll head to the beach, sit on the beach, and breathe in the ocean air.
And for an instant calm (aka stress-dump), I have to say, Amish country is top on my list. There is something so tranquil about riding the back roads, looking out over the farms. It’s as if the craziness of the real world slows to something much more manageable. Some of that, I imagine is the pace. Quiet, respectful, and doable.
With that said, my favorite time to visit Amish country is probably late winter/early spring. The underlying pace is still the same, but the tourists are low in number (always preferable, in my opinion) and it seems there are fun things to see around every corner. In fact, just this past month, I came away with two squeal-worthy moments/encounters from my late March trip to Lancaster.
The first squeal-worthy moment came when I stumbled across my first-ever Amish wedding. My clues were the multitude of buggies parked in an open field, the horses all housed together under a large tent, and the volleyball game that was in full swing. I was so tickled to see this, I might have driven by a time or two (or three 😉 ).
The second squeal-worthy moment came the next day while on a buggy ride. The ride, itself, took me to a local Amish farm which was, in and of itself, enjoyable. But the best part was the driver. He was raised in an Amish family but opted not to join the church after Rumspringa. It was fun to learn things about his choice (he was one of four siblings in a seven sibling family who left) and what prompted it (he believes it was getting to drive a car). In fact, he said the highest percentage of youth who leave before baptism come from the youth groups with less rules.
I’ve thought about my conversation with that young man many times since my visit. I’ve thought about his reasons, and the many nuances of a choice I can’t even begin to fathom making at such a young age. And I’ve compared it to the one made by Katie Beiler, the main character in my upcoming Amish-based women’s fiction novel, Portrait of a Sister.
Mostly though, I find myself flipping through my calendar wondering when I can go back…
Laura is a former Agatha nominee and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. In her free time, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, traveling, baking, and visiting the sea lions at the Central Park Zoo. For more information and all the latest book news, visit her website at www.laurabradford.com.