June 21, 2018 // 2:22 PM

Thinking of Friends

Written by Art Petrosemolo

It’s been hot this mid-June…unusually hot and muggy. I guess this is typical of farm country in the heat of summer. Well this is only my second year living here and I miss the breeze from the ocean and bays in New Jersey. I miss it even more when I head back to the shore to photograph big sailing regattas as I have done a few times already this season.

So, I not only felt the heat here (even with our air-conditioned home in Sycamore Springs) but I also felt it for my Plain Community friends. It bothered me when I realized living 24/7 in high 80s, low 90s, muggy conditions might be more than uncomfortable for them. I had a spur of the moment idea recently (I get them a lot) and acted on it.
I have written about my Old Order Mennonite friends on Reidenbach Road a few times. They are part of the small 35er Mennonite sect and have no electricity or any type of refrigeration. They recently installed their first full bathroom which was a major upgrade to the homestead farm (one of three owned by the family).

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy visiting them in good weather and bad. In the spring and summer, we sit on the front porch (under ripening cherries) and talk. In the winter, we sit at the huge, dining table in the kitchen by the wood/coal burning stove and talk.

You’d be surprised about the things we talk about, how much we learn from each other and how we laugh together.

A couple of weeks back I needed a garden cultivator. It was an unusual design and I loved the one I left to the person who bought my New Jersey home. I went to Tractor Supply and Zimmerman’s and all they had were modern hand hoes. But rummaging through my friends barn I found just what I needed—the exact tool—and we all had a good laugh.

I always bring them something when I visit and always go home with beans, corn, strawberries and more in return.

So get on with the story Art… So during this hot spell, it suddenly occurred to me that they probably had nothing cold to drink. I solved that problem with my spur of the moment thinking…

I rummaged around and found gallon jugs and filled them with ice and pink lemonade. I found some plastic cups and hustled over to the farm. I found mom and dad sitting on the porch as I expected, with the (adult) children busy with the horses, farm, etc. I poured lemonade for everyone and we sat on that porch for an hour and just “shot the sherbet.” It was as pleasant an hour as I have spent in a long time.

But, hey, I have more than one Plain Community friend. On the way home, I made a detour to Lapp Valley Farms, not far from us at Garden Spot. It is my downfall. Their ice cream is to die for and I have been known to stop there at 9am for two scoops of Maple Walnut for breakfast… Hey, it’s dairy!

So I pick up a half gallon of Butter Brickle ice cream and hustle it over to Mike Fisher’s (the craftsman who builds the Garden Spot tables). His wife is overdue in delivering their third child. She is big, uncomfortable and (I thought) needed a treat. And I knew (OK, so I asked Mike) what her favorite ice cream flavor was and did a to-the-door delivery. Mike had a big smile on his face and after taking care of Esther, he took dishes out to the two carpenters working (and sweating) while they finished the new workshop building on his property. Everyone was happy.

I felt good…not because I thought I was a hero on a hot day but because I had such good and new friends to do something for. It was the least I could do for them to provide a bright spot on a miserably hot day and I’ll do it again…

By
Contributing Writer