Food, Fun and More

Buying Local and Unexpected Gifts

Amish HaystacksAmish Watermelon

I’m entering some photographs in the Hillsdale County Fair this year and needed to drive to the fair office to turn in my entry list and pay the fee.  Hillsdale is west of me on US-12 through Jonesville and then south on M-99.  I always have a camera with me so when I’m out and about, I keep an eye open for good shots.  I’ve learned to stop and take the picture.  If I don’t, I either never go back or whatever caught my eye is gone or changed.  I have a whole file of photos I didn’t take, in my mind.

After my business was done at the fair office I decided to take the back way home.  It had been a while since I’d traveled the back roads and wasn’t sure of the way.  But, what the heck, home was east-north-east, there was plenty of daylight and the gas tank was full.

The way came back to me as I drove.  State Road had just been resurfaced with tar and gravel.  The loose stone made for slow driving.  Around a bend, I saw eight or more blonde Belgian Draft horses prancing along the edge of a large pond; tails high, manes flowing.  I didn’t stop to take the picture. There wasn’t a good place to pull off onto the shoulder because of the new road surface, and I was wearing sandals.  I imagined tar covered toes and ruined footwear so I drove on into North Adams.

Turning east on North Adams Road leads to home.  There are three for four Amish families living along that stretch of road.  They had cut the straw in one of their fields and placed it into tee-pee style stacks.  I’d seen a similar scene in Indiana on the way to Shipshewana several years ago.

This time I turned the car around and went back, pulled off the side of the road, turned on my flashers and got my camera.  I walked up to the fence and took several shots then went back to my car.  I pulled into the farmer’s driveway to turn around and saw a sign:  Watermelon $1.00.  The price was right, a home-grown watermelon sounded delicious and it would set things straight for taking pictures of their straw.

I pulled farther down the drive and got out of the car.  A man drove a team of work horses around the side of the barn and a young boy tended a ringer washing machine.  Neither of them looked at me as I stood there shifting from one foot to the other.  Then a commotion behind the kitchen screen door caught my attention.

The door opened and a sunny mother’s face appeared with a friendly wave of her hand.  Her daughter, who was seven years old or so, stood in front of her.  The woman said, “She’ll help you.  The watermelons are down in the yard.”  I turned around and there they were stacked in a big pile.

The little girl came out and waited patiently while I rummaged in my purse for a dollar.  She was a picture of confidence and bravery.  She looked me straight in the eye and referring to the watermelon said, “Do you want me to carry it for you?”  I couldn’t help but smile and said, “Thanks but I can get it.”  She grinned and took the dollar to her mom.

I was thinking that she was supposed to keep an eye on me and make sure I only took one.  When I reached the pile of watermelons there was an on-your-honor box for payment.  In the face of such trust how could person not be honest?

I’m glad I didn’t see the watermelons in the yard.  My encounter with the spunky little Amish girl was an unexpected gift.


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