The sun warmed my back as I hiked down the mountain, and I was glad for the “borrowed time” of another mild, late autumn day. I might have started the hike in a sweatshirt, but somewhere along the way, I had left it on a post or a branch to pick up on the way home.
As I passed *Martha’s house, she came out on the porch to chat a bit. Her husband died some time back-was it a year? Two years? I had lost track, but I knew she hadn’t. I suspected her life at the foot of the mountain was a little bit lonely. Recently, I had noticed that her smile didn’t seem to quite reach her eyes.
“Aren’t you cold?” she queried, shaking her head. She was bundled in her heaviest sweatshirt, hood up, and still shivering.
I called back to her, “*Samuel and *Rebecca’s pigs are out!!” and she joined me as we surveyed the scene. I tried to wave the wanderers back toward the general area where they belonged, whereupon they split up and ran east AND west; at that point we noticed the mama pig was also ranging around the neighborhood.
As I rushed up the steps to summon Rebecca, I could hear Martha grumbling, “They’re not home. I’m pretty sure they’re not home.” Neighbors keep an eye on each here, and Martha usually noticed when the family beside her headed down the lane in their carriage. She was right, no one answered my knock. And so, the fun began.
We soon discovered that the gate to the pasture was unlatched. “Probably that little *Sam left it open, Martha lamented. “He’s always in there.” By now a dozen or so chickens had joined the escapades. We ignored the chickens and focused our efforts on corralling the pigs…which if you have ever tried, you know is a daunting prospect because pigs are not a herd animal.
The little pigs dashed around the various and sundry outbuildings, often in opposite directions. I circled a number of those buildings more than once! The horse, watching our antics through the open half door of his shed, snorted and fussed. (Or maybe he was laughing.)
We developed a system in which I would get the pig headed in the direction of the pasture gate and Martha would open the gate and shoo it through with perhaps some help from the red plastic baseball bat she had picked up along the way. It took a while, but eventually we had contained the two young ones back in their proper territory.
By this time, I was puffing, and sweating and laughing pretty hard. Martha was just shaking her head. And then we looked around for their mama.
She was waaaay out beyond Martha’s garage in a huge open area, beyond the line fence between the properties, and she was not showing any interest in heading back our direction.
But that’s not how we see it here, and I remembered (too) many times when kind neighbors or even strangers passing by had helped round-up errant sheep from Hickory Lane.
It is how we live our lives, here in rural Pennsylvania, Amish and “English,” (the term Amish people use to describe non-Amish.) We help each other.
I looked at my friend. Her cheeks were rosy, her eyes were bright, and her sweatshirt was hanging open. “Hey Martha,” I couldn’t resist. “Are you still cold?" Chuckling, she shook her head one more time.
We went our separate ways, warm, and warmed. And laughing. Country problems.