At home with the family-loving American Anabaptists who seek a rural life free from the tyranny of modern technology
When he cuts open the peach, juice flows to the ground. He sits on a wooden crate surrounded by his six sons, who are also slicing fruit, huge piles of them, before placing them in jars. The youngest, who’s only five, joins in, as they all sit together inside a rust-red barn in the early evening light. They’re dressed identically, in blue shirts and dungarees with battered straw boaters pulled over blond bowl haircuts. I’ve long been drawn to the lifestyle of the Amish, so here I am with my husband and two sons, watching this Amish family preserving peaches for winter. The Amish first settled in Pennsylvania – where the film Witness is set – but then created a larger colony in the rolling hills of Ohio’s Holmes County, where more than 35,000 now live.
We fly into Columbus, Ohio’s capital and stay in the recently opened LeVeque hotel, a beautiful art deco building – zodiac signs and suns are carved on to the stone exterior and the celestial touches continue inside. We spend a couple of days exploring the city, wandering past historical houses in German Village and the enormous conservatory biomes at Franklin Park. Columbus’s zoo is one of the largest in America. We watch cheetahs chase each other and see bison and beavers. Afterwards the boys are delighted to cool off at the adjoining Zoombezi Bay Water Park, tube rafting along a “lazy river” and shooting down water slides.