Friday, March 11, 2011

Almost Heaven

If you are driving west out of Landisburg on Pennsylvania State Route 274 tomorrow, stop in at St. Paul's Lutheran Church.  Neighbors are collecting for the Clouse family.  They have already been to the Clouse barn and milked their cows.  They have done the other chores on this dairy farm and now are looking after the needs of the family.  Seven of the Clouse children died in a fire this week as their mother milked in the cow barn and their father worked his route collecting milk from other dairies.

Neighbors helping neighbors comes naturally in Perry County, PA.  This is beautiful country nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  The natural borders of mountains and streams enclose rich soil dotted today with family dairy and poultry farms.  Fifteen covered bridges built in the 19th Century offer safe passage over the runs and rivers draining east to the mighty Susquehanna.  More than a dozen grist mills still stand, some from 18th Century settlements.  The first court of common pleas was convened in Landisburg on December 4, 1820.

The Clouse's neighbors are doing what settlers have done throughout our history.  Farmer John Hoover is quoted in the Palestine Herald Press: "It's like the community's just pitching in and taking charge".  The Clouse family and their Amish and Mennonite neighbors will mourn together.  John Denver sang of the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, less than 100 miles down range from the Clouse farm.  Almost heaven.  For the sake of this grieving community, I hope he was right.

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