Monday, November 16, 2009

Getting to Know Some Neighbors

I moved to Tennessee twelve years ago after having spent my entire life (except for when I went to college in Louisiana) in Arkansas.

My family and I quickly adapted to our new home and have enjoyed so many things about the State of Tennessee and Nashville in particular. Nashville is a great central location. There are three Major League ballparks (St. Louis, Atlanta and Cincinnati) just a few hours away; we can be at the beach (Gulf Coast) in about seven hours; and we can be in Chicago in about eight. We have had tons of friends over the years stop in on their ways to points east and west, north and south.

It's also really pretty around here. Lots of rolling hills, rivers and creeks that are breathtaking this time of year. The beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway begins in Nashville, going south. The Smokey Mountains, home of the most-visited national park in the U.S., is about three and a half hours to our east.

Right here in Nashville we have the NFL and the NHL. And of course the music here is legendary. People are friendly and, in the suburban area where we live, there are lots of transplants like us. We know very few natives.

So it's not hard to see why we came to love our adopted home.

What I really like to do when I have time is find those hidden gems, the ones that most of the tourists don't know about, a bit off the beaten path. With a day off last Wednesday, I found one of these jewels in Ethridge, Tennessee, about 65 miles south of my house.

Ethridge is the home of an "old order" Amish settlement. They settled in the area in the 1940s and, according to a brochure I picked up, "arrived in a railroad car loaded with their horses, farm equipment and household goods." About 250 Amish families make their homes there today.

Arriving in Ethridge, I came upon the Amish Welcome Center right on the main highway, where one can board a horse-drawn wagon and tour the Amish community. When I arrived I was told that the wagon had just left and wouldn't be back for the next tour for an hour and a half. I piddled around the "touristy" Welcome Center, then decided to get a map and strike out on my own. (I saw the wagon a little later and decided it was pretty lame and was glad I had missed it).

What I found was nothing short of fascinating. About one mile behind the Welcome Center, off the main highway, are country roads where the Amish live. There might be "modern" people living on some of the land around them, but most of this particular area is occupied by the Amish.

They have no modern conveniences -- no cars, no tractors, no electricity and no running water. They dress in black and, while they are pleasant and friendly, they essentially keep to themselves.

In this area they make their livings by working the land. They sell fresh vegetables, milk, molasses, quilts, rugs, hats, furniture and other hand made goods from their homes. Most of the houses have hand-made signs out front that advertise what is for sale.

In the town of Ethridge, and in the nearby much larger town of Lawrenceburg, it is not uncommon to see the Amish horses and buggies trotting along with the traffic. I followed one into the parking lot of a farm supply store and shot a couple of photos.

Speaking of photos, you have to be discreet. They do not like to have their pictures made and they certainly won't pose. I managed to get a few and hope I did not offend them.

It was a delightful way to spend a day off. Here are a few shots of my day:


Debby said...

Have you ever been able to figure out why they won't wear buttons?

Maggie said...

Woah Dad...Impressive pics. Very artsy and professional like! My favorite is the wagon next to the truck. haha I hope they weren't offended by your texing with me. haha. Enjoyed your story. Glad you had a good time. Love you see you FRIDAY!!! :)

Kelly said...

Loved all the pictures, Bob! Did you see any of the blue heeler puppies that were for sale?

Having graduated from UT-Knoxville, I loved the time I spent in Tennessee. It's a beautiful state.

Pam said...

Love the photos!!!!!

quid said...

Pictures: Great
Story: Fabulous

Pencil Writer said...

Nice pictures! I love this country and the great diversity of its people.