One Summer evening, around sunset, we visited Monroe and Sarah's brother -- who is still Amish. While at his farm, 15-year-old Amish Enos, who had been visiting, was ready to leave the property. "Oh wait," I called out to Enos. "Can I have a ride in your buggy?"
Enos grinned and invited me to jump on board his open buggy. This type is used for hauling hay and other bulky items, similar to how we use a pickup truck. He hitched up the horse with ease and deft while I sat awaiting my ride on the single, wood bench. I carefully inspected each detail and the large wooden wheels. Swartzentruber buggies must use wooden wheels with a metal band. Rubber tires are against their rules.[Click to Tweet that] Enos lit the side lamp on the buggy and climbed up to join me.
He grabbed the reins and snapped them across the horse's back. With a slight jerk we took off circling the gravel path surrounding the farmhouse and barn. Then he shook the reins and the horse started trotting. Holding the reins to the left and to the right, the buggy swerved to each side, the back wheels skidding slightly.
"Enos!" I screamed half laughing. That ornery boy was having fun with this city English woman. "I'm not in the mood to die tonight!"
He looked bemused. Didn't slow down.
"Hey, you think people might take me for Amish?" I asked.
He gave me a sideways glance. "Neh."
"Well, maybe if I wear a bonnet."
"What would give me away?" I asked with a snicker.
Enos quickly scanned my clothes. "Maybe the shorts an tank top." We cantered around the barn with the cool night air combing my hair. Occasionally I looked down at the ground whizzing by and wondered about the safety of traveling in an open buggy--no seatbelts or safety features. Swartzentruber Amish are prohibited from any safety features--including the slow moving vehicle (SMV) triangle seen on farm equipment and other vehicles. One lamp is permitted to guide their way through the night.
"Whoa," Enos soothed the horse as we slowed to a halt. What rare fun! He hoped down--Enos faster than me--and I backed out putting one foot on the tiny step of the buggy. We stood chatting again with Monroe, Sarah, and their brother. With good-humor, they teased me about the "fast" buggy ride and occasionally exchanged words in Deutsch.[Click to Tweet that]
Enos climbed into the buggy, held the reins, and with a "chck" out the side of his mouth, the horse took off. "Guten Nacht," he called out. We continued to talk until it became so dark we couldn't see each other. The three of us said our goodbyes to the brother and climbed into my car.
Driving down the darkened road I spotted a tiny glow ahead. As I neared the glow, I recognized Enos riding his open buggy on the single-lane country road. As a mom, I was concerned for the boy's safety. I know the Amish are familiar with their back roads and alert to approaching cars but, my heart wanted to follow him to assure his safe arrival home. And I hoped--still do--that drivers are cautious and patient.
In an upcoming post, I'll write about my second buggy ride in the typical, covered black buggy. Come back to read more true stories. And in my upcoming book, I'll share more ex-Amish stories and details about the Amish. I'm an educator, what can I say? I love to teach.
(c)Copyright, 2013. Brenda Nixon