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A NEWS BREAK

Plenty of words have been written about the surreal tragedy which enveloped America on Tuesday, Sept. 11. We all have our stories, mines mundane. I was simply succumbing to my vice of a morning Coke. I know I shouldnt drink so many sodas, but the taste of the sugary, syrupy soda coming out of a cold caffeine-filled can is just the elixir to wake me up in the morning. I got in my car about 9 a.m. and was heading to the vending machine about a half-block down the street when I heard the first news of the attack crackling over the radio.

I got my Coke and raced back to my apartment, where the remaining four days were a blur of news, tears, horror, and reflection.

So it was with mixed emotions that on Friday, Sept. 14, I headed to Elizabeth Coblentzs for an afternoon visit. Part of me didnt want to tear myself away from the television coverage of the tragedy. But I had promised Elizabeth that I would bring her bread before church services scheduled to be held in her home on Sept. 16. Amish church services attract hundreds of visitors, too many people to bake that much homemade bread for. So most Amish women buy store-bought bread for the large gatherings. Elizabeth often uses me to buy the bread. I can stop at a Butternut Thrift store in my hometown and buy bread for 33 cents a loaf. The low price comes in handy when Im buying 50 loaves, which is what Elizabeth asked me to bring.

Part of me looked forward to visiting Elizabeth. Escaping into the storybook world of the Amish, with its buggies and windmills, would provide a welcome respite from the constant coverage of the terrorism attack.

I knew Elizabeth would probably know little about the events of Tuesday. This is when the Amish society is so refreshing. Ive known the Coblentzes for 10 years. They seem to stoically go about their daily duties: canning, quilting, gardening, worshiping, and raising children regardless of what happens beyond the borders of their church district. The 90s brought the Gulf War, O.J. Simpson, Oklahoma City, and Monica Lewinsky. Yes through it all, the Coblentzes, and most Amish, knew virtually little about any of the headline events.

When I arrived at the Coblentzes, my suspicions were confirmed. Elizabeth knew little about the attack in New York, she just had a vague understanding that something bad had happened. Word about events in the outside world spreads very slowly, piecemeal, through Amish communities. Friday at Elizabeths was a postcard perfect day. Laundry flapped in a cool September wind, and Elizabeths garden was bursting with a bountiful late-season harvest. I walked a little slower across Elizabeths lawn, savoring and appreciating the peaceful, pastoral landscape, relishing that there were still places in this country generally untouched by the terrorism.

Verena, one of Elizabeths daughters, still lives at home, but she owns a house nearby. It sits empty most of the time. On the way to Elizabeths, I noticed what looked like a horse munching grass in the overgrown lawn of Verenas house. Finding this odd, I asked Verena about it when I arrived. She was mystified. She kept no animals at her house. So I drove her the mile or so to her house, and we discovered pony tied to a split-rail fence. It had been tied to the fence with baler twine, probably taken from the barn on her property. I could tell that the pony hadnt been there long. We checked with a few Amish in the area to see if they were missing a pony, but found no one missing an animal. Verena has always wanted a pony, so she figured she would take it home and make further inquiries. If no one claimed it, she would have a pet pony. I took Verena back home and she made plans to return later for the pony.

When I left for home about 30 minutes later, I passed Verenas house. The piece of twine hung limply by the fence. The pony was gone, as mysteriously as it had appeared.

The mysterious pony and the trek into Amish country was a welcome diversion during a rough week. Wars may rage, economies may ebb and flow, and disasters happen, but the Amish live quietly to the rhythmic beat of Americas heartland, clinging to a way of life that now seems more appealing than ever.

Kevin Williams
Executive Editor
Oasis Newsfeatures

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