My wife and I were in Ohio two weeks ago, and we repeated a trip we’ve made for each of the past three summers. Even though we both graduated from Ohio State University, and even though she’s a native Ohioan (I’m from College Station), neither of us had ever been to Holmes County, aka “the Amish Country” just south of Canton. We decided to give it a whirl two summers ago, and we keep going back. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the prettiest counties in America.
Now, part of the beauty of Holmes County comes from its native terrain. It is hilly, verdant ground with an abundance of streams. But there are lots of other places in America (some right here in Texas) that would fit that description.
However, there are two things quite different about this county of 40,000 people. First, it’s clean. Sparklingly, cheerfully, gorgeously clean. And it’s also home to about 20,000 Amish residents. One website I saw says this is the largest Amish population in the world. And it seems like it while you’re there.
You drive through miles of pristine farms and colorful gardens, and you realize that there’s not a power line in sight. So because those are Amish farms that are so beautiful, I’m willing to assume that the Amish residents deserve the credit for keeping their county gloriously maintained.
This is not a column on religion. In fact, I’m just as naive about the Amish faith as almost anyone else. But all that aside, there are some terrific messages I’ve brought home from my visits. These are a few of the things that I learned from the Amish.
And speaking of tools, if you’re ever in Amish Country in northeastern Ohio, stop by the tiny town of Kidron. That’s where you’ll find Lehman’s Hardware. It’s huge, and it’s fabulous. It’s the store of the Amish.
You can buy 40 kinds of wood-fired ovens, but there’s not an electric appliance in the place. The room that has replacement glasses for kerosene lanterns is as large as many homes. And you can find more types of clothespins and clothes-drying racks than you ever imagined.
There’s a hand-operated washing machine (you do the spinning) and probably 20 kinds of crank-powered ice cream freezers. Garden tools of all kinds, and kitchen utensils and simple toys unlike any other place you’ve ever been. But they do have electric lights in the store, and they do use computers. Why, they even have a website, www.lehmans.com. But don’t try to get cellphone reception while you’re in Kidron. It just isn’t to happen. Enjoy your time out-of-touch.
If you’re ever in Ohio and you want a day trip to remember, head to Berlin (pronounced “BER-lynn”), heartland of it all, and work your way out from there. And I can only imagine how glorious Amish Country must be when the fall color hits peak around mid-October. A good friend was up there on a late-fall Sunday morning, and she said it was breathtaking to see the scores of buggies guided by lanterns making their way to church in the pre-dawn hours.
If you want to learn more, there are very helpful websites, maps and brochures. Plan your trip ahead of time, and take it all in. You will be changed for the better.