We live amidst the Amish. Tractors now seem strange to us, and slightly profane; teams of horses plow our fields. No longer does a horse and buggy stopped at an ATM rate more than a passing glance, and it only seems right that shopping centers should have hitching posts. Here, where we live, the mighty beasts of the landscape are made not of steel, but flesh and blood. Modern farm gadgetry is just a rumor.
Today I went for my customary Amish land run. A few times a week I trot twice around a two-mile loop, a course that takes me through four Amish farms and alongside several other Amish homes connected to these farms. When we first moved here two years ago, I ventured out with a sense of caution, even trepidation. Not only do a variety of automobiles race along these narrow roads, but horse-propelled buggies do too. What is the proper approach to a horse and buggy? Does one cross to the other side to avoid being chased or chomped? Can these bearded drivers be trusted to keep carriage and horse on a straight course? Closer to the heart, would the Amish sneer at one of the "English" (their name for us, since they speak a German dialect called "Pennsylvania Dutch") jogging on their roads, alongside their farms?
"Why does that man run, Papa?" I imagined an Amish child asking his father.
"Oh," replies the sage, "because even his body demands work of some kind. You can't sit around all day and expect rest for the soul at night."
My fears were in vain. Horses generally do avoid runners, and the Amish wave politely as we cross paths, sometimes even calling out a greeting. I've detected nothing more hostile than perhaps a muffled snicker.
Three times today I passed a middle-aged Amish woman and a young girl walking the opposite way around ...1
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