On my return from West Virginia last month, Pauline welcomed me into her Victorian home in Newport, Kentucky.

“On your way to Michigan tomorrow, will you have time to stop in Ohio for a visit with our friends the Harris family?” she asked.

“Yes. I packed a dress with sleeves as you suggested.”

“Good! I’ll ride with you. Dennis will meet us there.”

“What’s the name of their community?”

“Hutterite. But Dennis and I call them ‘plain folk’ as we do the Amish. Wanda and Michael don’t use electricity but drive a fifteen-seat van. Wanda loves to cook soup for company. I take dessert.”

The following afternoon, I found Ohio’s June agricultural landscape as breathtaking as Farming Magazine portrays it.

“Dennis and I enjoy escaping the city to spend a day with the plain folk. You’ll soon know why.”

We drove through tidy Ohio towns until Pauline nodded to a spacious white farmhouse. “There it is.”

Surrounded by trees and red barns, the house sat upon an undulating sea of green cropland. The flower garden along the front porch caught my eye from the road. A little blonde girl in a maroon dress ran barefoot with a dog the color of her hair.

I praised God for sight and His bountiful beauty.

Pauline spied Dennis’ van. “Looks like he beat us here.”

Two girls in long, colorful dresses walked down the steps. Two boys about seven and nine ran around the yard with their younger sister and the dog they called Carmel.

I knew Wanda by her matronly figure and smile.

“Welcome Iris!”

“Hello, Wanda. Thank you for the invitation.”

“Well, come on in! Michael and Dennis ran an errand with the older boys.”

We found five sisters beside the large harvest table arranging flowers in a vase. They tucked blossoms under each other’s scarves.

“The flowers are for the funeral of a community member,” Pauline explained. She talked patterns and fabric with the young ladies.

For three hours Greta skipped in and out of the house to color with crayons. Nine-year old Hans led me into a barn to see his chicks.

“A rat killed two of them,” he said.

“I’m sorry.”

Around four o’clock, after Dennis and Michael returned with her two young men, Wanda placed Pauline’s cheesecakes on the table. Three-year-old Greta pointed to a chocolate piece. “That one.”

Later, we chopped vegetables and gathered silverware for supper. Twelve people fit on benches with room to spare for the matriarch. The youngest children sat at their little table.

Joyously, Wanda carried in a soup pot of creamed chicken half her size, set it before us, and returned with a stockpot of rice. At last, the matriarch took her place. The patriarch dispersed hymnals.

Before the feast began, the family sang parts in harmony. The feeling was akin to my grandmother’s table when I was a child. And before the family left their place, they sang from the hymnals again.

Dear Reader, I know why Pauline and Dennis visit the Hutterites.

They love to see the chocolate ring around Greta’s mouth. Plain and simple.

Contact Iris at irisleeu@sbcglobal.net.