Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Western NY Tale: The Short Tract Road

There is a country lane to the east of us, called the Short Tract Road, possibly after a village called Short Tract. What many people don't know is that the Romans came here, oh, way before Christopher Columbus and built this road extraordinarily straight, though with few roller coaster dips for excitement. Here you see it, unfolding in the distance.

Short Tract Road has, to put it mildly, seen some better days.

Although it does have some of the most stunning views in Western New York.

Some places look beyond hope..

This once must have been a grand mansion

Now, like Sleeping Beauty's castle, it's alone and overgrown.

But in the past year or so, something extraordinary has happened to Short Tract Road.

Yes, these are Amish horses. The Amish, a gentle sect that live austere pioneer-type lives without mechanisation and electricity and bake the most wonderful pies, are moving in.

They have set to restoring a number of old farmhouses and building some new ones and immediately the place is looking more cheerful. Neat lines of dark blue laundry extend from the barns and all the junk - old cars and such that tend surround a lot of rural Western New York houses - has been cleared away.

  Driving along the road recently, we saw, fleetingly,  in the morning mist,  two great black horses pulling an enormous piece of farmyard equipment - one of those hay slides for a barn, perhaps. An Amish man stood, holding the reins, coaxing them into the yard. There waited three or four children, the little girls in long skirts and bonnets, the boys in brimmed hats, clutching lunchboxes. Perhaps they were on their way to the Amish school. It was a sudden, poignant vision of times past. Mindful that the Amish prefer not to be photographed, I have to leave it to your imagination.

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