Simple Gifts

We just returned from several days in the Amish area of Ohio east of Mansfield and west of New Philadelphia. These Christian communities are known for their simplicity. I have to say we only know these communities from a distance but we often find ourselves returning to this area when we want to get away, to slow down, to the enjoy the beauty of simple things and simply share time together.

Carlisle Inn--Walnut Creek

One of our favorite places, partly because it is filled with good memories of past visits is the Carlisle Inn of Walnut Creek, where we have stayed several times. It is located in the heart of Amish country, between Berlin and Sugar Creek, and near other towns like Charm and Kidron (home of a famous hardware store). They have the friendliest front desk personnel I’ve met, comfortable, quiet and well-appointed rooms and evening snacks and breakfasts.

The Carlisle Inn is walking distance from the Der Dutchman restaurant–simple food well prepared. Favorites for me are “broasted” chicken and pickled beets. After a day of visiting shops in nearby towns, it was a joy just to enjoy a leisurely good meal.

Life stops in the evenings. One of our treasured memories that we revisited were Scrabble games each night, played in their sitting area nibbling on the snickerdoodle cookies they left out for us. For the record, I was undefeated! Later evenings and early mornings were times for some quiet reading–finished most of a new C. S. Lewis biography and also enjoyed a recent biography of John Quincy Adams (stayed tuned!).

This was the first time we had visited in the winter. We drove east from Interstate 71 on State Route 39, which takes you through rolling hill country. We were in no hurry, just taking in the stark beauty of snow covered hills and valleys, bright red painted barns against the snow, rows of corn shocks in the fields, and the black Amish buggys silhouetted against the white landscape.

Of course we visited a number of shops during the day. It gave us the chance to pick up some last minute gifts and admire good craftsmanship. We looked at a number of quilts that we would love to have on our bed, but discovered quality comes at a price! But I found close attention to this workmanship is not dissimilar to studying a work in an art gallery.

These days were a simple gift to us, and in a way a Christmas gift to each other. Perhaps the greatest gift was simply to be able to share all this with the wonderful woman with whom I’ve shared thirty-five years. Merry Christmas, my love!

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