Something about a fresh snowfall in the heart of winter brings forth an excitement and wonder at the beauty and possibility of what the day has to offer. One look out the window at the flakes blowing past in a wintry wonderland and I am reminded of the long winters spent as a young girl growing up Amish. As I start up my car to take a drive on the familiar roads through the snow covered hills, fields and farms in the countryside of Holmes County, Ohio, I think of the little girl who had to walk knee deep in the snow to make it to school. She has come a long way.
I often drive myself through the beauty of a new snowfall, wandering, but not lost. I leave my mind open to take in the pure beauty from the toasty warmth of my car, taking extra care on the back roads that see little to no traffic. Some would say there is nothing out here. A wasteland. I take notice of the hardiest branches and brambles defiantly growing through the harsh winds and heavy snow. I admire the strength of those brambles, out and exposed in these elements, patiently waiting for spring and summer to break through these long and cold months.
A snow storm lives on its own time, and while there may be a long task list waiting for me back at the office, I realize that for many, especially the Amish, a snow storm leaves the day’s order of business from reaching beyond the home and the farm itself. Still, I see a collection of farmers and businessmen at the weekly auction buying and selling goods, their horse led buggies parked alongside one another, the brims of their hats piling with snow as they climb from their buggies and make the short trek across the lot and into the auction. I slow the car to snap some photos as I make my way through the lot. A beautiful black horse parked with a buggy, her coat sleek and dotted with snow, turns her head in my direction.
Leaving the auction the road empties out again and I pass a large working farm. The bright red of the hay barn catches my eye, as does the spinning windmill beyond the large white house where dwell the Amish family that lives here. I don’t see anyone, save for a work horse accompanied by a small donkey standing in their shared pasture. The ears of the horse stand alert as I drive past, his handsome chestnut coat standing proud against the whiteout happening all around us.
I left the Amish life when I turned 18 years old. It was something I had always known that I would do. It’s not that I was ungrateful living Amish. I wasn’t trying to get away from my life and my family, rather I felt I was going towards something else. I still live very close to my family and am grateful I can still be connected in my own way. I love to take in the lifestyle happening around me, even if it’s from my car window. I had big dreams growing up. I believed I was made for something more than what it seemed I was, and with half a decade of working for myself as a business owner behind me, I still believe there are so many possibilities to continue to grow. Just as this winter has its day, soon will spring burst forth and we are a season wiser for it.