Three Wheels

There are always surprises when you plop yourself down in a new place. One of these was observed outside an ice cream shop on a busy intersection in Sarasota.

I felt like the little bee in the corner while a highway of three and two wheel bikes buzzed around me. There were Mennonites going about their business with baskets of groceries balanced on the fenders of their well loved modes of transportation.

Women in plain dresses and caps holding their hair back pulled up to a light post with a button allowing them a signal that would give them passage to cross the four lane avenue with their cycles. Cars and bikes cautiously watched each other. Some  Mennonite folks stopped and chatted.  A few got off their bikes, sat on the bench by the side of the shop and caught up on their news oblivious to my curious eyes.

A block away their neighborhood of modest homes had been surrounded over the years by the modern and prosperous city. The Mennonites came in the 1920s for the same reason others came:  the good weather and the long growing season. At first they were just “the tourists” and their church is still called The Tourist Church. But many stayed and still hold to their religous ways.

It’s not just the old folks who are holding on. I saw plenty of younger people there as well. Two years ago, when were in Siesta Key, we saw a young Mennonite woman enjoying lunch at a cafe near the Gulf. Another Mennonite family played in the sand and flew a kite.

After visiting Holmes County in Ohio and seeing the Amish and Mennonites my embedded memories of these people were folks in rural country sides with lots of property and pastures. Now I was seeing a whole new world of the urban Mennonites.

You don’t have to travel half way around the world to have new revelations. Usually, the most unexpected ones are right under your nose. Or sitting in the sun eating ice cream.