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SERENE SCENES OF WINTER

FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK

Winter brings serene scenes of snow and sleighs to the quiet Amish country around Elizabeth's house.

I visited Elizabeth and her daughters on February 13th. The sky was slate gray, and the land hushed by the hibernation of winter. The garden plot behind Elizabeth's house is empty, the soil silently awaiting the rebirth of spring. Embers smolder in the Coblentzes woodstoves, sending a small stream of smoke climbing into the crisp February sky. This gray day, like so many of my visits before, reminds me of the power of Elizabeth's weekly words in her newspaper column. It's simplicity. For all the small changes that are seeping into Amish society, they still cling to a way of life that is foreign for most of us. In Elizabeth's house, there are no light-switches, no water faucets, no microwave ovens. My world can sometimes seem so chaotic and complicated. A visit to Elizabeth's refreshes my soul, allows me to escape for a spell. I can stand outside on a cold winter's day at Elizabeth's and feel myself embraced by a sense of continuity. This is the land Elizabeth's family has always lived on, and probably always will. I'm simply a visitor to a scene that has played out for centuries before me, and will long after I'm gone.

Of course, on a lighter note, there's also the food. Elizabeth offered me homemade rocky road squares made by her daughter, Leah. These are mouth-melting morsels of marshmallows, nuts, cereal, and chocolate. Plus, if that wasn't enough, Elizabeth had homemade caramel corn for me to eat.

I took a stack of your emails and reader questions to Elizabeth. She sat at a table and read them (click here to go to ASK ELIZABETH to read your questions and her answers) while I went out to the barn with oldest daughter Verena and youngest daughter Susan. They showed me photos of the team of Belgian horses that they will soon be selling. It's with a sense of sadness because the horses served them well, but they really are no longer needed for farming. Another local man farms the land on Elizabeth's property for her.

There is a sense of winter emptiness on the Coblentz farm. A year ago, Elizabeth's husband Ben was alive and well and with us. While he was a quiet man, his presence was always felt. Today, there's an undeniable emptiness. But just as spring brings rebirth and renewal with the first sun rays of March and May, so does the birth of a child. I was able to visit with Elizabeth's son Albert, wife Sarah Irene, and their newborn infant, Leanna, born January 31. Elizabeth has been blessed with two new granddaughters in the past two months, Suzanne and Leanna. They are much-needed miracles after a rough year, perhaps a sign that a corner has been turned, that a rainbow of renewal is on the way. Elizabeth's spirits seem higher these days.

Elizabeth has written in her newspaper column about her successful poinsettia and Christmas cactus. I took some photos of the plants, along with a couple of other items of interest. You can soon see them in the SCRAPBOOK.

Once again, thank you all so much for your kind words of encouragement to Elizabeth. They keep her motivated during the darkness of winter.


Kevin Williams
Executive Editor
Oasis Newsfeatures


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