(originally posted on 11/26/11)

Our veterinary practice (for readers not familiar with the territory) is in a beautiful area. Geauga county has gently rolling hills with good farm land and large areas of forest. The region is one of the highest producers of maple syrup in the country. Nearby Middlefield has the 4th largest Amish community in the world. Amish residences are easily identified the by plain white houses with no electric wires running to them, and unadorned concrete block barns with buggies parked outside. The simple folk reject modern technology and anything flashy. Colors of fall here are astounding, with gold, scarlet, and mustard shades twirling down, piling up, and crunching under your feet. Winters are covered with thick layers of fluffy white, and cold weather sports are popular.

Last week, Pete and I were headed to see a pony at our first call of the morning, a farm out in Montville. Traveling north of Middlefield, the open fields mostly shorn of their crops, we could feel the chill of late autumn. Approaching the address, an interesting view appeared. The homeowners had built a baseball diamond, with a backstop near the road, and a 220 foot fence around the outfield in the front yard. Aggressively decorated for Christmas, a plastic Santa in his sleigh had been positioned at home plate, wielding a wiffle ball bat. Plastic penguins covered all three outfield positions, as well as first and second base. Rudolph (the red-nosed reindeer) was in ready position at short stop. Third base had no one securing it, and there was no catcher.


Now as a retired, extremely amateur baseball coach, I see a problem already. You can get by without a catcher, but all three infield base positions should be covered! Let the penguins play left and right field, shaded toward the middle, and let the second base penguin play deep to help cover shallow center. Rudolph should be quick enough to help cover second base and shallow left field! I don't think chubby old Santa can hit it too deep anyway!

The backstop was thoroughly strung with Christmas lights (obviously nothing was lit at this time of the morning), which extended all the way around the perimeter fence. Spotlights were placed to extra-illuminate the internally lighted "baseball players". The driveway had lateral stakes which were also strung with lights, all the way to the house on the right, and the barn on the left. We slowly drove up the approach, taking in the large images of Santa and Frosty (the Snowman), haloed by rings of colored lights, hung on the house and the barn. Twisted vine reindeer stood near the sidewalk, waiting for darkness to start their sparkling lamps and nodding heads. A large snowflake made of lights dangled near a tall Christmas tree created from spirals of purple LED rope lights. Undeniably, these clients took great pride in creating a substantial display for everyone to enjoy.

We rolled to a stop between the house and barn, and continued to survey the decorations.

That's when Pete spoke up:
 "Are they Amish?"


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