by Sharon Sweeting Howe
Earlier this year on a freezing January night, I expanded my acquaintance with the local Amish
community by driving several to and from the Community Blood Drive collection site. Picture knee
deep snow, long driveways with single tire tracks, frigid temperatures and dimly lit roads and
houses. Currier and Ives could have produced many old-time calendar vistas. Nearly 80, mostly
young Amish men, donated that night at the behest of the Bishop. At a snowy crossroad, an older
Amish man in a buggy provided directions to the next house since my passenger was unsure. He also
requested that he and his wife be picked up around seven o’clock. Later in the evening we
transported four very engaging young men who inquired about the car’s temperature: it was 8
degrees. My final delivery was to Youngs Road near Malinda S. Miller’s shop, well-known to me
since we use her jams and jellies for our breakfasts. I reached home, in -2 degree weather at 9:
30pm, well past my bedtime.
Malinda’s brother-in-law, a Canadian, was a great reader and we used her shop as a remote library
book drop for the Cherry Creek Library. Sadly, he and Malinda’s sister returned to Canada.
Another enthusiastic reader came into the Cherry Creek Library searching for books on disasters; we
gave him what we had on the sinking of the Titanic and 9/11 but he was interested in stories of
ordinary people who perform heroic acts in dire circumstances, e.g. Chilean mine disaster when the
entire world came together to assist. He now helps us with book selection and recently discovered
a Christian school library which was discarding many worthwhile books. He worked diligently to
sort and pack books which were stored temporarily in our library until they could be resorted, re-
boxed and distributed to local Amish schools.
Our first Amish borrower requested a book on cowboy poetry by Baxter Black which he
remembered from his childhood. We also found one, by the same author, called “Croutons and
Cowpats.” When he picked it up, he asked what croutons were and told me what cowpats were.
A very kind young Amish women who bakes wonderful breads and pies for our Amish-style meals at
the Inn, sent me a hand-made sympathy card when my husband was killed. Near her family home,
lives a sawmill owner who made larch wood swings for our pergola and also helped an English
friend, who lives among the Leon Amish, build a wooden crate to ship four large pieces of
furniture, including a cedar chest, to a Seattle family who was staying at the Inn and had purchased
the items at the Annual Memorial Day Amish Auction which helps fund heath care for Amish
An Amish toy shop creates many wooden puzzles and games and is willing to mill missing items such
as chessman from a wooden set that our puppy had chewed. They also milled a missing distaff nob
for an 1820s Cherry Creek-made spinning wheel which had been donated to our town museum.
Next door, their ironmonger son designed and built an arbor for our front garden incorporating
several designs my sister-in-law and I found on the internet. He also helped us to “horsify” our
carriage house with accouterments for horses, e.g. iron hitching rings and horse-shoe brackets for
hanging horse-related decorative stuff.
And finally, a special friend at our local quilt shop located directly across the road from my
grandfather Howe’s farm. She has a large inventory of goods ranging in price from one to several
hundred dollars, is a keen business women and the mother of 15 children. On one occasion we had
inadvertently booked a tour on a Holy Day, when she would be closed. She filled several large
totes with fabric goods of every description and with Carol Lorenc transported them to the Inn
Library which took on the appearance of a middle-eastern bazaar or souk. Our guests were
delighted to be able to see her goods. An Australian family staying at the Inn bought four quilts and
two quillos (small quilts which foldup into pillows) from her shop which traveled to Sydney as
excess baggage in one of my husband’s large trunk-like valises with which he moved around the
What I have learned from my Amish neighbors: importance of family, sacred meal times, discipline
by living a simpler life in a world without electronic distractions, true friendship, patience,
craftsmanship and humility. I am grateful.