Sunday, April 15, 2012

An Amish School Bus

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

In the fall of 2010, Mother Nature was less than cooperative. The autumn leaves came and went far too quickly in our part of the country and the days were far too sunny. When more days of sun were predicted, Joann asked what we should do. We hate to pass up fall photographing, but too much sun is bad for photography.

I checked the weather forecast around our area. The best chances for clouds were to the west. Hmmm, maybe a Minnesota trip was in order. We quickly planned, packed, and took off.

The first day was too sunny, but we made the best of it. We still managed to get photos of some locations we had not stumbled on before.

On the afternoon of day two, we were rewarded for our patience. We often spend time in Amish areas of Wisconsin, and we occasionally catch some children outside the schools during recess. On this day, though, our timing was excellent, and we were near an Amish school as it let out for the day. We didn’t want to bother them, so we parked the car about a quarter mile down the road and began watching. There were several horses and buggies parked near the school.

First we noticed that the horses were waiting patiently. Then one of the buggies was moved up to the door and we could tell that kids were leaving the school and climbing in. The first horse and buggy came out of the school driveway and turned in the opposite direction from where we were parked. The next horse moved near the door and a new group of kids climbed onto the cart it was pulling. As it left the schoolyard, this horse and cart turned in our direction.

The horse was moving rapidly and the small cart careened from side to side behind it. As it neared us, we could see that it was being driven by a small boy. The others were in the cart behind him, hanging on to whatever they could.

Of course we were smiling as they went flying past us, and they grinned in return. We were mesmerized and watched until they were out of sight. Then we turned our attention back to the school. There was a lone horse and buggy remaining.

Then a woman (the schoolteacher, we presumed) came out of the school and walked across the lawn. At first we assumed she was going to the outhouse before she got in her buggy and headed for home, but she passed the outhouse and ducked into the harvested field. She started to walk across the field, and we watched her become a smaller and smaller figure as she walked away from the school.

As we drove past the school, one lone horse and buggy remained and we could only speculate why this horse was still there after the rest of the students and even the teacher had gone for the day.

This was one of our most memorable Amish encounters and took away some of our disappointment in the unusual fall we had experienced up to that point.

Happy Shunpiking!

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