When I got the chance to tag along on my husband's business trip to Amish country, I jumped at the chance. A pre-trip tumble down the stairs severely limited my mobility, but I was determined to make the most of my time in Pennsylvania.
I've long respected the Amish for their dedication to a simple lifestyle, and I was looking forward to seeing it firsthand. I had no interest in the tourist traps of Lancaster Country - the "authentic" Amish quilts done in a disconcertingly modern style, the "traditional" Amish buggy rides with a costumed guide. My husband and I got a map of the local country roads and got to work getting lost among the farms.
The farms were so neat and tidy, with crisp white and red buildings. Nearly every farm had clotheslines full of clean clothing that swung gently in the bright sunshine. The Amish use a clever pulley system here, so that a simple tug on the line will bring the clothes directly to the house.
Beautiful boxes of bright flowers accented front porches...
...and front yards.
The corn was just starting to come up. It looked so healthy and vibrant!
The honor system is firmly in place here. Fresh produce, pastries, and handmade goods were available at many farms...no sales on Sunday, of course.
Of course, jerking to the side of the road for a quick photo op drew some curious stares from the locals!
The original settlers to the area used the materials at hand to build their homes and barns, and many of the solid stone buildings still stand.
This old barn from 1792 was absolutely beautiful. It was full of swiftly darting barn swallows...
...and had a cheerful red wooden door, which is a special love of mine.
I spied some funnel web spider nests in the walls. I expect the barn is chock full of them!
I love stone walls. They have their own special charm, and it's easy to tuck some alpine plant starts in their shallow crevasses for colorful cascades of flowers in the summertime.
We spent some time in the small country towns, too. I've never seen so many horses pressed into REAL horse service!
They pulled plows in the fields and buggies in the small towns.
This is one traffic jam I didn't mind being in!
The brick buildings were frequently festooned with pretty drapes of fabric.
We had just enough time for a side trip to Eastern University, where my husband had worked for several years before moving to the Midwest. It was one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever visited!
It had many traditional stone buildings in the local style, including this small rustic mill.
It was a wonderfully wooded campus, and of course I couldn't resist hobbling out to photograph a cluster of lichen on a nearby tree.
I loved how the campus incorporated the natural features of the area. More stone buildings framed this large, lily-filled lake.
Perfect timing...the lilies were in full bloom!
With the lazy humming of dragonflies, it was the perfect spot to curl up with a great book, or have an impromptu picnic.
This little guy was certainly enjoying himself!
An eastern grey squirrel begged for a treat as we were leaving.
Being in the country really renewed my desire to live a simpler life. My husband and I had many good talks about our hopes for the future and how we'd love to live in a rural setting. We'll keep taking trips like these...and who knows what will happen?