Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Fiction: Grohs Haus und Daughty Haus: Moving day for Leah

My Friday Fiction contribution received an Editor's Choice in the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. It reflects the life style of my in-laws, the Amish of Holmes County, Ohio. For more great fiction, go to Sherri Ward's A Candid Thought blog.

Grohs Haus und Daughty Haus: Moving Day for Leah

Leah looked around at the bare living room. Memories of everyday moments passed quickly through her mind, and she sighed as she reached out to clean the stain of a jelly-fingered streak from the doorjamb.

Was ist letz?” Matthew questioned as he came in the door.

“I’m thinking of the days when we first brought the kinna home after they were born. It seems like yesterday.” Leah smiled and Matthew reached out to tuck her hair back into her cap.

Ja…the days have passed quickly,” he said. “Maem and Daet seem too young to be moving to the daughty haus yet.”

“I know. But your Daet can’t work the farm the way he used to, and they know how much we’ll appreciate the grohs haus after being crammed in this little box. Still…I’ll miss our tiny house.”

“Me, too. Ja, well, we’d better be going.”

Leah lingered on the porch and looked out over the valley. The sun glimmered on the tops of the hay rolls that were hunkered in rows in the neighbor’s fields. Cerulean blues, mustard yellows, and summer greens were the colors that painted the meadows and sky, and she felt another twinge of sadness that she would not see this familiar view after today.

The horse twitched his ears as they approached the buggy. He stamped his feet in greeting and snuffled Leah’s apron pocket as she prepared to climb the step to the seat.

“Sorry, Stormy, no apfels for you today, silly gaul,” she said as she scratched his ears.

The way to the grohs haus was not long, and when the children saw them turn into the drive, they came running. Leah grinned and waved at her bunch. The kinna’s bright cheeks and sweet smiles warmed her heart, and the sight of the big farmer’s house filled her with sudden excitement.

Matthew’s parents had already moved their things to the smaller daughty haus that sat between the barn and the main house. Matthew and Leah would take over running the farm now, and Leah would be the one to cook the meals for the farmhands and plant the big garden that stretched just outside the kitchen door. She’d spent many summers helping her schwie-mutter, Sarah, pick the vegetables and prepare to can the produce they gleaned from that rich soil, and, somehow, it didn’t seem right that it belonged to her now. She wondered if Sarah was feeling sad, too. The move was a big change for Matthew’s folks, also. Leah glanced at the daughty haus just as her in-laws came out to greet them.

“Well, Son, everything ship shape and tied up at the old haus?” Matthew’s Daet asked.

Ja. All is clean and ready for the next family.”

Gut. Your Maem and I have got things settled in the daughty haus, and Maem has made a big batch of her chicken stew. Why don’t you get the kinna washed and ready for sobah while we bring the stew and brot over to you?”

Maem turned and pointed to the side porch of the grohs haus. “Leah, there’s plenty of tomatoes still ripening on the sill. Slice how ever many you think the kinna will eat, and we’ll be right back with the food.”

As she watched her mother-in-law walk slowly toward the daughty haus, Leah imagined she saw a little slump in the older lady’s shoulders. She thought of all of the years Sarah must have loved this old house. She jumped from the buggy and called out Sarah’s name.

“Sarah…Maem…please, wait a minute.”

Sarah stopped and glanced over her shoulder, her eyebrows rising in question as Leah approached.

“I…I just wanted to thank you, Maem. For the house and all. You kept it neat and tidy and…well…it will be a joy for us to live here.”

Sarah sniffed and pulled her daughter-in-law into a tight hug. She wiped her eyes and smiled at Leah.

“It’s been a gut haus, Leah. You and Matthew and the sweet kinna are welcome to love it and live in it as much as we once did.” Then she grinned. “Ja, well. Mind the windows in the kitchen, though. They stick on humid days.”

While Sarah went to fetch the meal, Leah walked to the side porch and carefully selected three of the ripest, reddest tomatoes. She turned and looked out over the rolling fields surrounding the house; the view here was beautiful, too. She smiled as she called her hungry kinna to supper.

Pennsylvania Deitch translations:
Was ist letz: What’s wrong?
kinna: children
daughty haus: smaller grandparent’s house (next door or attached to the main house)
apfel: apple
gaul: horse
schwie-mutter: mother-in-law
sobah: supper
brot: bread


Hoomi said...

Very nice; the story not only gives a sense of family, but also of a history and a legacy that I think we're too quickly losing in today's world.

Sara Harricharan said...

Ooooh! I remember this one! Such fun to read it again. I love the feel and the way you mixed in the words and history together. A favorite of mine. ^_^

Unknown said...

I love it when I learn something while reading a story. Thank you!

Sherri Ward said...

Dee, this is very sweet. The translations also helped. You have gained a perspective not all have with the in-laws being Amish. And I love your new blog look, it's very cute!

Joanne Sher said...

Beautiful storytelling. A wonderful sense of history and sense of place. Wonderful, sweet Dee!

Shelley Ledfors said...

I remember this. It's so sweet, and your descriptions draw me right in to the setting of the story. Lovely.

Patty Wysong said...

This captures soooo much, Dee. Atmosphere, dialect (and yet we can understand it. LoL) and the emotions. Wow. Super-duper job!!