A horse feeds Wednesday while its owner, an Amish man, gets supplies inside Home Depot in Waterville. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

The old, black horse pulling a buggy clopped northwest on Main Street in Waterville, stopped at the traffic light by Eustis Parkway and continued on, once the light turned green.

Vehicles drove around the buggy or slowed to let it pass as it headed toward the intersection with Waterville Commons Drive.

There, among a flurry of cars and trucks, the buggy turned west and rumbled along to Home Depot, where it stopped near a light pole in the parking lot.

A slight, older man with a long beard and donning a straw hat and blue work clothes stepped down from the cab, tied a leather lead to the pole and walked to the back of the buggy to retrieve a brown bucket bulging with hay. He attached the bucket handle to the pole and the eager horse delved in.

The word “anachronism” comes to mind when I see an Amish buggy bouncing along in the midst of faster, more harried traffic, two opposite worlds colliding in stark contrast. I am reminded of the slower life of my childhood, when a traffic jam in Maine was an anomaly rather than an everyday occurrence.

Part of me longs to abandon my car and hop aboard the buggy with that Amish man, retreat to the country to tend gardens and farm animals, bake bread, share a family meal and sit evenings before an open fire, reading aloud to children.


Those Amish, I think, know something we don’t — that there’s more to life than rushing around buying costly digital paraphernalia we think we can’t live without. They are implements that keep us immersed in a virtual world far removed from the reality in which we sit. We’re consumed with everything fast and urgent. We don’t take the time to cook food, instead tossing pre-packaged meals into microwaves or dining out too much because our lives are harried. Just after observing the Amish buggy Wednesday in Waterville, I saw a news clip about bacteria found in bagged, pre-chopped onions, which I didn’t know even existed. Do people not cut their own onions anymore?

We don’t hear about the mild-mannered Amish amassing weapons, engaging in wars, and killing people in the streets. They don’t fight or covet, brag or boast. They live simply, keeping their own corners of the world straight.

Close to Waterville, we have Amish communities in Mercer, Unity and Whitefield. I’m distressed when I hear about vehicle accidents involving their horse-drawn buggies, which are vulnerable to fast-moving, motorized, modern modes of travel. An infant was thrown from a buggy Sept. 27 in Whitefield when it was struck by a truck. Fortunately, the baby suffered only minor injuries, but the situation could have been much worse.

Horse-drawn buggies and horse riders have the right of way in Maine, and state law requires us to give them wide berth when passing.

“An operator may not knowingly operate a motor vehicle in a manner to annoy, startle, harass or frighten an animal being ridden or driven on or near a public way,” the law states.

I feel protective when I see a buggy on the road. I think it is as much an instinct to preserve an old, more humane way of being in the world as it is a desire to ensure its safety.

We can learn lessons from people who live simple, introspective and contemplative lives.

And while we may choose not to practice as they do, we might do well to at least take heed.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 35 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She is the author of the book “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published this year by Islandport Press. She may be reached at acalder@centralmaine.com. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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