Friday, July 17, 2015

Sweet Music to Sleep By

 If you've been following my blog, you know that I made several trips to Amish communities in Indiana this summer. Twice I went to Shipshewanna (northern Indiana) and most recently to Odon (southern Indiana) to do book signings. My goal: to make sure those Amish communities know about the Amish Horses Book Series. Mission accomplished.
My book series is about a non-Amish teenage guy that spends time with his Amish relatives. So, as you may well imagine, I'm very interested in knowing more about life as an Amish teen.

My original ideas come from my own experience, moving to the Kalona, Iowa area as a teenager, and spending a summer hanging out with a certain group of Amish young folks (as they like to call themselves)

On my most recent trip to Odon, Indiana for the Horse Progress Days, I spent two nights camping in this parking lot. You can see campers in the background behind the buggies. The buggies are parked outside of a Recreation Center. I spent about an hour on both evenings inside of the Rec. center re-charging my phone. The drivers of the buggies were Amish young people, who were inside playing basketball and volleyball. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out listening to them laugh and play. When they passed by my perch, near an outlet charging my phone, they all spoke friendly words to me. When I retired to my pickup-topper to sleep for the night, I dozed off to the sound of horses clip-clopping on a road nearby. I woke to the sound of Amish young people talking as they rode horseback directing traffic in the parking lot. It was 6 am and a group of Amish young people (male and female) sat on their horses in the fog, showing incoming vans and cars where to park.

After two peaceful days among the Amish, it was time to head home. I didn't think I could make it all the way back to Iowa without falling asleep at the wheel and it happened to be the 4th of July. I started out my trip and passed by several large crowds of English people setting off fireworks, with loud music and partying. I decided to head for Arthur, Illinois, where there is a large Amish community I hadn't visited, yet. I prayed for a peaceful campground where I might wake up to the sound of horses trotting past in the morning. Prayers answered.
My cell-phone doesn't take clear pics when it's dark, but I wanted to show you some of the Amish teens at the park
 Once in Arthur, I inquired from local businesses about where there may be a campground. They directed me to the city park. I pulled in and noticed a softball game going on, near where a few other campers were parked. I walked around looking for a place to charge my cell-phone and realized I was in the midst of a huge crowd of Amish young folks. One of the young guys suggested I charge my phone in the 4-H building you see on the right. I watched some of their softball game as my phone charged and then headed to my pickup to get some sleep.

view from my pickup bed. it's too dark to see the buggies or small groups of Amish teens here and there

same view in the morning, notice, not one piece of trash
 I didn't realize that just beyond my pickup were two long rows of horses (and buggies.)

My pickup topper has two small screen windows for ventilation. I drifted off to sleep to the sound of Amish teens laughing and visiting quietly. Every now and then, I would wake to the sound of a horse whinnying to their teenage owner, "Don't forget me... I'm still here!" One by one, horses trotted off into the dark night. You can see my camper below. I use a bob-sled for my book-selling table. My horse collars and hay-bales for decor. I not only had the sound of hoof-beats as music, but the smell of hay and harness leather for effect.
 In the morning I surveyed the spot where all the horses were tied. There was not one piece of litter, except a for a few piles of road apples (manure.) You can see my pick-up truck in the background, through the fence.
 The sign says "No hitching to fences" I believe the horses were tied to the steel bar and not the fence. In either case, these young folks caused no harm. The only "wild" actions I witnessed, were two boys riding around on the top of their buggy.

I truly had a peaceful night's rest, with the sweet music of buggy-horses clip-clopping off into the darkness. In the morning, I drove around the Arthur, Illinois Amish community and took a few beautiful pics before heading back to Iowa.

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