Mem slapped the reins, urging Don into a slow trot. The flaps on my bonnet blew gently in the breeze and the steel-rimmed buggy wheels crunched on the gravel. I looked out over the fields at the green grass of early summer, dotted with wildflowers. ~Liberating Lomie, page 68
The horse and buggy is an icon of Amish life, and it represents a slower-paced lifestyle. In warmer months, this mode of transportation can truly be a pleasure on back country roads where the traffic isn’t bite-your-nails scary. There are several scenes in Liberating Lomie that describe this experience.
In stricter communities, horse-drawn vehicles are always used for local transportation, while trains are used for long distances. However, in most communities, the Amish will hire their “English” neighbors to drive them to where they want to go, and pay the driver by the mile. They call these “taxis.” The most common way for men to travel to their workplace, especially those who are craftsmen working at various worksites, is to hire a taxi driver. For other weekday trips, it is often a personal decision whether to travel by car or by horse and buggy, though it is very much frowned upon to arrive at an Amish church service in a car. Church members are expected to walk or take a buggy to church. In some communities it is also acceptable to use bicycles for transportation.
In the Amish way of thinking, it’s different to ride in cars than to own them. One Amish man was asked why this was so, and he replied with this question: “When you take a plane, do you buy a ticket or the plane?” While this response may be humorous, it doesn’t answer the question. I don’t know of any Amish person who can answer this question definitively. I know I can’t.
Several years ago, David and I were traveling through Lancaster County when we saw an Amish man with a dog in his buggy. The horse was moving along at a good clip, and the dog’s fur was waving in the wind. It was quite funny. David and I turned back and waited at an intersection to take a photo, which is where this one came from. It looks like the dog is the driver.