A horse await its owner outside the Pine Valley Country Store.
Even in horse and buggy country, among men with long beards and women in coverings and solid color dresses, I am mistaken as Amish. For her birthday this year, Mom wished to visit the Amish stores in Clare, Michigan. One of our anticipated summer activities is shopping at the hardware store, bulk food store and bakery in Clare. These small family-owned businesses, with items and quantities suitable for large families, are closed on Thursday, Sunday, and as we discovered one year on Libby's birthday, Assension Day. But they were open yesterday when Mom, Julie, Libby, Logan, Naomi and I made the forty-five minute drive north.
I was resting in the wooden rocking chair in the back of Colonville Country Store, a pole-barn-type building filled with kerosene lanterns, hand-crank ice cream freezers, and flashlights, waiting for my family to finish shopping, when a customer commented on how comfortable I looked. Then he asked where the hatchet handles were. I directed him to the side wall without bothering to explain that I wasn't Amish and didn't work there.
Bushels of peaches were grouped in the shade of a tree outside the the Pine Valley Country Store. Inside bags of flour, sugar and oatmeal lined one wall. Men's black hats and herbal remedies covered another wall, and packages of candy, pudding mixes and baking supplies filled the shelves. While Mom was writing the check to pay for our purchases, including honey mustard pretzels for Brian and a case of frozen butter, I went outside and helped an Amish girl in a teal green dress load five bushels of peaches in our fifteen passenger van.
The Amish had no difficulty categorizing us as "English." When we stopped at a farm off a dirt road to ask directions to the ding and dent store five or six Amish children silently stared at us while their mother directed us two-and-a-half miles further down Surrey Road.
Our last stop was the Surrey Discount Foods store. We arrived three minutes before closing and stuffed our cart with Gatorade, dented boxes of cereal and out-of-season Chex Cocoa Snack Mix. Near the check-out was a cardboard box of lipstick, two for a dollar. The make-up seemed incongruous with the man with the scraggly beard and suspenders behind the counter.
Julie and Mom select packages of dried fruit, nuts, pretzels, snacks and candy at the Pine Valley Country Store. Sunlight from the windows light the store since the Amish eschew electricity.
Though our van is large, it isn't the best for hauling groceries because it is full of benches. We sat next to a half-bushels of peaches after we left the Pine Valley Country Store.
We turned around for this road-side stand with its colorful rugs, braided onions and assortment of home-canned fruits and vegetables. I hurried to snap a few pictures before two silent Amish girls emerged from the house. We bought a pint of sorghum molasses, a pint of raspberry jam, and a quart of raspberry pie filling--all for ten dollars.
Logan, Naomi and Julie load cardboard boxes of food into the van at Surrey Discount Food. By the end of the trip, LIbby was disgusted with everyone, Amish and non-Amish alike, staring at us.