Even the Amish like to take a vacation.
Better yet, hire a driver from Pinecraft to pick us up at the airport. Because once we get to the village, the best way to get around is to ride a bicycle or walk. Several residents rent bicycles by the day.
Once we get to Bahia Vista Avenue, we start to see bicycles here, there, everywhere, and many more in the winter time. Bicycles outnumber cars on the village’s streets, which sport familiar names like Fry, Yoder, Graber, Kruppa and Kaufman.
The village’s high season of vacationers runs from November until early spring, during which the population swells to several thousand.
Hotspots in Pinecraft include Yoder’s Restaurant, an ice cream shop called Big Olaf’s, along with other establishments like Village Pizzas by Emma and Der Dutchman Restaurant. Signs posted in the neighborhood will direct you to people selling cheese by the pound from Ohio, or you can purchase grapefruit on the honor system from a small table at the end of someone’s driveway.
When you step into Pinecraft, toss out your preconceptions about the Amish and Mennonites. You’ll see Old Order Amish ladies, their black aprons fastened with straight pins. You’ll see men with long beards waving in the breeze, much like the Spanish moss does from the nearby trees.
There aren’t any wood stoves or homes without electricity in Pinecraft. The Plain who don’t have electricity back home are permitted to stay in homes and small apartments that have electricity, I’m told.
In Pinecraft during the winter, there’s always something going on—an impromptu singing at a local home. People find out about the singings via word of mouth or by notices posted on light poles.
Pinecraft Park is a hubbub of activity from morning until late night, with a playground for the kiddos, fishing in Phillippi Creek. You’ll hear the clank-clank of shuffleboard players, the grunts and discussion of men playing bocce. The park is often the setting for gospel concerts and singings.
The youth play volleyball at the court—if they’re not at the beach nearby, that is. Siesta Key Beach, voted the Best Beach in America, is only 15 minutes away and last winter, the city set up a bus stop in Pinecraft. The girls love to change out their sturdy plain shoes for snazzy flip-flops and they stock up on the suntan oil to get a tan before heading back north.
Is it possible to be Plain in the middle of a thriving, worldly city? Yes, and they do in Pinecraft.
Lynette Sowell is the award-winning author of over 15 titles for Barbour Publishing, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. Her latest title is A Season of Change. Lynette was born in Western Massachusetts in the shadow of the Berkshire Mountains, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country. She loves reading, cooking, watching movies, and is always up for a Texas road trip. When she’s not writing fiction, she works as a reporter for her city newspaper and has a weekly column called My Front Porch.
Purchase Lynette’s books here.