There are still a few places where laundry is dried on the line, fresh with the scent of whatever is wafting by on the breeze. Pinecraft, Florida, a place filled with rows and rows of tiny, white clapboard houses is one such place. What was once a quiet little community on the edge of Sarasota is now surrounded with four-lane highways; as the city expanded it eventually completely surrounded it. But Pinecraft remains a distinct entity even so. Like a timeless bubble of nostalgia.
The residents of Pinecraft are mainly Amish and Mennonite, or are descended from those unique people groups. Cars and trucks whizz by on the busy thoroughfares surrounding the quiet little lanes that crisscross the community within a community and the law’s best efforts to enforce the 30mph speed limit meet with limited success. Adult-size tricycles meander along with elderly men in their barn-door trousers and elderly ladies in their plain, long dresses fearlessly pedaling through traffic that would have the bravest pedestrian tremble.
A highlight for Pinecraft dwellers is the day the buses come in. Several times each week motor coaches packed to capacity bring visitors from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Georgia. About fifteen minutes before the buses are due the trikes start rolling in, ensuring the new arrivals will have a healthy welcome. There are retirees with long flowing beards, grandmothers with billowing skirts and snow-white caps and busy young parents packing along their toddlers in the basket attached to the back of their trikes. On Thursdays the crowd is larger because that’s the day THE BUDGET, the newspaper read by most Amish families, is delivered with the passengers.
Most of the people stepping off the Pioneer Trails buses that pull in around noon are Amish, but there are also a few “Englishers” as well as a sprinkling of everything in-between. With streamlined efficiency the suitcases, bags, and boxes are unloaded from the storage compartments under the bus and lined up outside before the first passengers have time to disembark. When the door opens and the travelers emerge, families and friends are waiting to greet them and mini-reunions take place all around.
I spot one young family, waiting patiently for their ride. The kids are crawling around on the large red plastic storage containers their mother must have used in lieu of suitcases. Great idea, I think. Why lug around seventeen bags when two big totes will do it all? I remember back almost thirty years ago when I made this same trek with my two small children in tow, to meet my husband who had been away on a job. I stumbled off that bus feeling like I had done battle with a tribe of savages. Small, preschool savages. The family before me now looks fresh and put-together. I marvel at the resiliency of some people. Those red totes factor in somehow, I’m sure.
Within minutes everyone has picked up their luggage and disbursed to wherever they are staying for the next week or two. And the church parking lot where it all happens is empty again. It’s all over so quickly one could almost think they imagined it. I look across the lot to a wash-line full of clothes flapping in the wind. No one is in sight. Maybe I did imagine it.