This post is written by HoneyGood.com Guest Contributor, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein. She delves into her trip to a Mennonite farmhouse in Amish country and the experiences she’ll have in her heart forever. Enjoy, my darlings.
A Way Back to Myself Emerges
It was a crisp and sunny autumn day. The leaves were vibrant. A weekend in the Amish country seemed to be the ideal plan for the upcoming Columbus Day weekend. I called for a room at a Mennonite farmhouse. When Mrs. Olsen answered, I imagined her standing in a whitewashed kitchen, looking out at a pasture with cows grazing. My mind envisioned the farmhouse as an old-fashioned, white clapboard house with wash swinging on the lines in the breeze. I couldn’t wait to make the reservation! I was disappointed when Mrs. Olsen told me that they were already full for Columbus Day weekend. I had called a little too late.
Meant To Be
I was about to hang up the phone, feeling sad that I would never see this clapboard house with the wash blowing in the breeze when Mrs. Olsen suddenly said to me, “Wait! Let me think about this. I think you could have our bedroom. Also I have one small bedroom upstairs that the children could share. So why don’t you come?”
“Oh, well, that’s wonderful!” I said. “But where will you and your husband sleep?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” she replied. “We have some cots we’ll set up in the basement. We do that all the time. Why don’t you come?”
“Yes! Well, if you’re certain, that’s great, we will.”
I was amazed at her generosity and positive spirit. Imagine that! She was going to make sure that we would have a place to stay, even at the expense of giving up her own bedroom.
A Beautiful, Unexpected Weekend
It was a glorious, uplifting weekend. The beautiful weather managed to continue. Although the house was not white clapboard, it certainly was a working farmhouse with large barns, many milking cows and quite a bit of potato acreage. The house itself, which could have come out of an earlier century, was painted a light brown. Being that the family was Mennonite and not Amish, there was electricity and some small appliances like a washing machine in the house. And yes, the wash was blowing on the line in the backyard.
But there was no television set. While they did not own a car, Mrs. Olsen told me that they used taxis, trains, planes and buses on occasion. Her father lived with them and was in charge of the horses and the buggies. I was very moved to see him hitching one of the horses up to a black buggy, knowing that once my great-grandparents had done the same. There was more to do than we had anticipated. For example, we all had fun talking to the parrot that lived over the washing machine. Every time Mr. Olsen walked by the parrot would say, “Daddy, daddy? Where are you? Come here, Daddy.” It would not be satisfied until Mr. Olsen came over and talked to him.
Blue-Eyed Frankie & Farmland
We were also amused and a bit threatened by Frankie, the farm’s guard dog–except he wasn’t a dog. He was a giant goose that could nip you. He protected the cows and made sure nobody went near their fences. Frankie had a great story. Lost and stranded during a hurricane, he landed in a tree where he got stuck. After the Olsen’s freed him, he stayed on their property, never to leave. Gradually, he designed the role of guard for himself. He had piercing blue eyes and a nasty voice. They named him Frankie because his blue eyes were reminiscent of Frank Sinatra’s.
Over the weekend, we saw a baby calf that had been born during the night, struggling to stand on wobbling legs next to his mother. I picked potatoes with Mr. Olsen and enjoyed the deep, dark, musty smell of the earth. As a family, we took several long walks through miles and miles of farmland.
Enjoying The Simple Things
We had a deep and luxuriant sleep in extremely comfortable beds with wonderful white Amish quilts pulled over us. Breakfast was a hearty meal, which we enjoyed in the farm’s kitchen along with Mrs. Olsen and the other guests. I had plenty of opportunity to talk with Mrs. Olsen and hear some of her life story. She was the mother of eight children, all grown now. One son had died of cancer as a young adult. She certainly did not appear bereft.
Mrs. Olsen possessed an excellent sense of humor and a positive view of life, despite the loss of her son. She was busy with grandchildren and visitors from around the world. When I looked through her guest book, as she urged, I realized that she had traveled the world without leaving home. Guests from Japan, Canada, Australia, England, China and even New Zealand had all visited. She talked about many of them, remembering who they were and what they did. Obviously, she relished her friendships with them.
Brimming Over With Love
The weekend on the Mennonite farm softened me and opened my soul. By the time we left, my heart was brimming over. I wanted to taste more times like this weekend and, in particular, find them in my own world. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more with you in other articles about my travels.
Right now, I want to ask you if my memories help you remember any special, unique times where you loved what you were doing. Where you also felt so close to the earth, life, friendship, and a sense of your own deep emotional capacities to live and love. Please share.
This story in a longer form appears in my book, “There Comes A Time in Every Woman’s Life for…Delight”
About the author: Guest contributor, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
Sometimes friends and colleagues call me ‘The Enchanted Self.’ That’s because as a psychologist in private practice for over 35 years, I’ve developed a form of positive psychology called THE ENCHANTED SELF. I’m not enchanted, but I do have many ways and ideas to help all of us feel better through all stages of life. These methods help us recognize our potential, regardless of our age, to grab on to our talents and find again and again the emotional energies needed to be creative, resourceful, resilient and to live joyfully.