This week’s Spin Cycle is all about driving. I thought about writing about my golf game, but a blog post should consist of more than just the words “I suck.” I could also wax semi-poetic about my experiences attempting to teach Darling Daughter how to drive, but I figured you’re all traumatized enough during the course of daily life, so we just won’t go there, either. (Although, can I just say how extraordinarily grateful I am that Beloved and Good Ex will take over the task of teaching The Young One to drive? Yeah.)
Fortunately for all of us, I can tackle this subject from another perspective.
When I moved to Ohio four years ago, I experienced a bit of culture shock. I went from living in a large, diverse, southern metropolitan area of about 3,000,000 to a small, insular, northern city (town?) of barely 50,000. It has taken more than a little adjustment on my part, and it has not been easy. My pastimes have changed – in some cases, quite drastically. And while it’s taken me some time to learn to cope with a new lifestyle (to say nothing of a new climate), I’ve come to appreciate the things I can do here in Ohio that I could not do in Texas.
Driving for pleasure is one of those things.
Texas is a very diverse place. You’ve got the Gulf Coast, the Rio Grande Valley, Mid-Texas Hill Country, the Panhandle Plains and Canyons, the Piny Woods of East Texas, and the West Texas Desert, just to name a few regions. The problem is, you have to drive very long distances to get to any one of those areas and while the destinations themselves can be quite spectacular, the drive getting there is often less so, simply because it is so time consuming.
Ohio may not be quite as diverse, but it is a beautiful place. It is one of the most populous states in the country, but you’d never know it driving through it. There are really no unpopulated areas in Ohio; however, most of it is so rural you tend not to notice that you pass no completely empty countryside. What there are, in the land between its major cities, are gently rolling hills interspersed with green, wooded areas and carefully cultivated fields full of corn, soybeans and impressive vegetable gardens; small, quaint towns and white, narrow houses with large porches, all of which look as if they came right off of the cover of an old Saturday Evening Post.
Since Ohio is almost 6 times smaller than Texas, you can drive across the entire state in less than a day. And drive we do – mostly to north central Ohio where Holmes and Wayne counties are located, home of the largest Amish settlement in the country. (Uh, Pennsylvania and Indiana? Our Amish can totally kick your Amish asses.) Frankly, I love it – if it weren’t for the the isolation and lack of electricity I’d move there in a heartbeat.
Driving down to Amish country is a very zen-like experience; the minute we turn off of highway 30 into Kidron and see the first horse-poop on the road, I just mellow out. Why, you ask? Because I get to see things like this:
An Old-Fashioned Thresher and Haystacks
Fields of Grass and Haystacks
And of course, we see a lot of this:
Amish Horse and Buggy
Seeing the Amish drive their horse-drawn buggies around is part of the charm of visiting this particular area. However, when we went out this last Saturday, we were completely unprepared for the site that awaited us just down the street form Lehman’s Hardware and the Kidron Flea Market.
Because the area is so dependent on farming, both on a small and a large scale, many activities revolve around this occupation. One of these activities are the periodic farm auctions that occur during the warm months. I’d read about them, but I’d never seen one. However, on the Fourth of July, there was a huge one going on in Kidron and as we rounded the corner to one of our favorite money pits places to shop (the aforementioned Lehman’s Hardware) we came across this:
Amish at the Auction
Literally rows and rows of identical, black Amish buggies in a huge parking lot outside the auction grounds. We pulled into the parking lot ourselves, and Beloved trekked up to take a gander at the auction while I crossed the street to take pictures of the largest gathering of Amish I’d ever seen in one place, although since the Amish do not like to have their pictures taken, I settled for taking pictures of their buggies. And trust me, this picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice – there were literally hundreds of buggies parked in the large, gravel parking lot of the auction grounds.
So after awhile of wandering about, pursuing our separate interests, we met back at our car, climbed in and headed out of the parking lot onto the street. As we turned, Beloved glanced over at me and noted the amused and bemused expression on my face as I took a last, long look at the rows upon rows of buggies.
“What?” he asked.
“Well,” I said, “how do they tell which buggy belongs to who?”