Monday, October 02, 2006

Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

Now here's the entertaining truth about yesterday's lovely, bucolic, pastoral picture. I just backed up a few yards to take this one!

The cows are bovine set dressing for a tourist attraction. Seriously! The farms & fields are for real. Actually the cows are for real too - but they've got them in this little roped-in area, right next to the parking lot where they lend maximum picturesqueosity to your digital foreground.

This particular parking lot is for a "shopping village" that's grown up behind the main drag of Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Yes, you read right. Seems to be a huge destination for bus tours. Can't imagine why...

It was interesting seeing how the Amish and the Amish-inspired/themed tourism coexists. We knew we were in Amish country when we started seeing laundry lines behind some of the big farmhouses, with simply-cut clothing and sheets blowing in the autumn sunshine. Ditto when we had to slow down passing a horse-drawn buggy. The most striking moment was when we spotted a group of men harvesting with a team of huge Belgians. I don't think I have ever seen draft horses actually being used to do serious farm work before - that was fascinating. Very real. There was one team working a harvester or mower of some sort, and then we passed a cart stacked high with stalks of corn drawn by another team.

The town, though, almost seemed like it was aimed specifically at giving us tourists a way to gawk to our hearts content, without gawking at people just trying to live their lives. Buggy rides, a petting zoo, pretzels, kettle-corn, fruit butters, jams, preserves, old-timey candy and enough country-themed tchotskys to stock a thousand grandma's kitchens. Out on the main street, higher-end stuff, beautiful quilts & I'm sure some nice furniture - all concentrated right there in one convenient location, buzzing with bus tours, while the Amish quietly worked their fields and lived their lives at speed that never exceeds the pace at which a good horse can trot.

Sounds kind of nice, doesn't it?

The place was a little on the tourist-trap side, but, well, it serves a purpose. I'm not much in need of "things" these days, but they did manage to pull a few bucks out of my pockets for apple butter, old-fashioned crackers & some malted milk balls, my sister got some shirts, and my folks got a new quilt -- perfect for those brutal nights in Hawaii when the temperature drops to a fearsome sixty-five fahrenheit, of course!

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