Lancaster County Day

I set out this morning for a special annual event, one of my favorite days of the year: The day I connect with my niece and give her the backpack that I have filled to share with a student from a family of diminished financial means. There's a structure to the visit: We meet at The Old Country Store, perhaps shop a little, cross the street for a chicken salad sandwich at Kling House, back to TOCS for a bit more retail therapy, moving of the backpack from one car to the other, hugs and kisses and off to home.

The drive out was uneventful. The traffic on the turnpike portion wasn't terrible, and soon enough I was heading South on 10 to be followed by West on 340. When I started out, I was thinking of some of the unsettling things about this summer: Disruption in routine at the little school where I work, a couple of important friendships in a bit of disarray, reminders of mortality much closer than one would like. I was looking forward to the visit with Susan, but feeling as though my world wasn't particularly rosy.

That all changed.

Once I got into the Amish countryside, the farms, cows, flowers were all so beautiful. I felt myself changing and settling down inside. I'm a sucker for a good clothesline full of Amish wash and apparently today was laundry day, for I passed several wonderful specimens. When I met up with dear Susan, I was pleasantly surprised that she'd brought along her granddaughter, age 1. Emmy is a gorgeous and personable baby, with a pleasant and amiable disposition. She's recently learned to (1) wave and (2) point, and did both with delight as her grandma and I consumed our chicken salad and she her cut-up chicken nuggets.

Susan was happy to receive the backpack. She told me that Brittany, the recipient of the first backpack I'd filled, is now a college student and showed up at her home the other day with a new, filled backpack. My gift had meant that much to her that she knew to pass it on.

I bought a little Kona Snow and a magazine. On the way home I stopped at a fine farm stand where I bought a big basket of Red Haven peaches, something my husband remembers from long, long ago.

I came home content and at peace. What caused the change? Was it the Amish wash (still hanging and blowing a bit on the way home)? Checking off another year of tradition with Susan? Lunching with the very newest generation? That big basket of peaches (and some sweet corn, too)? All of those things were wonderful. But the story of Brittany's generosity, I think, was the finishing touch.


Emmerson already has next year on her calendar! What a wonderful day!
Janet O. said…
Wonderful story. I smiled about the wash on the line. Simple things are the best, aren't they? Would love a day like this. How nice that your gift of years ago was acknowledged by passing it on.
Synthia said…
In spite of all the negative crap, it really IS a wonderful world! Thank you for sharing and reminding us. That's why I look at your blog EVERY day and am always so happy when you post. Blessings to you.
Quiltdivajulie said…
When we lived in northern Indiana, I loved driving past the Amish farms -- and the wash on the clotheslines really resonates with me. I felt you change as you shared the post -- I think sometimes I just need to get in the car and drive a couple hours away and then come home again to change my perspective and have time to notice the little things that matter so much. How fabulous that the backpack tradition has payed forward.
Barbara Anne said…
What a wonderful day! Thee are many sights in this beautiful world to help the mindful center themselves.

Nice, too, to know something you did from the generosity of your heart (and you're still doing) meant so much to one recipient.

You bought only plain white fabric and no colorful fabrics at TOCS??? Amazing.

Linda K said…
Thanks for the memories! Lancaster County is one of my favorite places for every reason that you listed, The Old Country Store and chicken salad, for sure, and many more. Lived in Hatfield, PA 20 years ago and lucky that my son still lives there so I can continue to visit Amish Country now and again. I don't comment much, but I read and enjoy ALL of your posts! I'll be thinking of that drive on route 10 and 340 today and wish that I had some fresh tomatoes, corn and ( don't tell anyone) a whoopie pie!!