Annie Martin loves the Plain ways of her Old Order Mennonite people, like those revered by her beloved grandfather. Retreating from a contentious relationship with her mother, Annie goes to live with her Daadi Moses in Apple Ridge.
But as spring moves into Pennsylvania and Annie spends time amongst the cherry trees with the handsome Aden Zook, she wishes she could forget how deeply the lines between the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite are drawn.
Can Annie and Aden find a place for their love to bloom in the midst of the brewing storm?
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February 21, 2012
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Excerpt from The Scent of Cherry Blossoms by Cindy Woodsmall
Annie added several lemons to the basket on the scale. "You have a little over two pounds."
"As gut." The gray-haired Amish woman smiled. "Ya, as gut." Annie wasn't as skilled with Pennsylvania Dutch as she'd like to be, but she definitely understood the phrase "yes, that's good." Her family had once known the Pennsylvania Dutch language well, but it had faded in the Martin home like a patch of sun-bleached wallpaper.
She'd been raised in a Plain home. Her clothing, with the flowery prints on her dress and apron and the circular prayer Kapp, was different from that of the woman standing in front of her, but Plain nonetheless. Annie's cape dress and white head covering indicated she was one of the horse-and-buggy Mennonites. They were also called Old Order Mennonites, and unlike their Old Order Amish neighbors, Annie's group had electricity and phones inside their homes.
An overhead fluorescent light flickered and buzzed. Annie pulled a paper bag from under the counter, wrote the price on it with a permanent marker, and slid the lemons into the sack. Her brother's voice echoed through the almost-empty market, and she tried not to show her embarrassment. Working at the same market as her two loudmouthed
brothers wasn't always easy.
For any of them, she was sure.
The woman picked up a Gala apple and smelled it.
"Meh Ebbel?" Annie asked. The customer already had a sack of Red Delicious in her cart, but maybe she wanted some Galas too. She shook her head, set the apple in its bin on top of the dwindling mound, and took the sack from Annie. "Gross Dank."
Annie started to respond in Pennsylvania Dutch, but when an Englischer woman came to the counter, she decided to speak in a language all of them knew. "You're welcome."
She turned to the Englischer woman. "May I help you?"
"Oh, absolutely." Annie grabbed her stepladder from its hiding spot. She'd been unable to keep up with the demand this afternoon, and her brother, who was supposed to restock her supply from the back room, hadn't been in sight for hours. She knew where he was, but she wasn't supposed to leave her stand. Besides, if she complained to him, he'd bring her less fresh produce next time and disappear for even longer periods. "I tried to get a fresh box down to fill the bin earlier today, but I was interrupted. Give me just a minute." She went up two rungs. "They are delicious, aren't they?"
The woman sniffed a kiwi. "I bought several pounds last week, and my family gobbled them up."
Foul language, followed by her brother's sarcastic laugh, rang out. Reminding herself that customers didn't know she was related to the loudmouth, Annie climbed to the top rung of the stepladder and reached for the box of navel oranges. Why did Glen always put the heaviest boxes in the hardest places to reach? She pulled it toward her, straining to get it down fromits perch without spilling anything. With the box almost in her arms, she saw an avalanche of oranges tumbling toward her face. One pelted her on the cheek. She flinched, turning her head, and was hit on the other cheek by two more oranges, but she didn't lose her grip on the box itself. The few other loose oranges fell
to the floor.
Glad the Englischer woman wasn't close enough to get hit and relieved she was buying oranges instead of pineapples, Annie held on tight to the crate as she made her way down the ladder. "Here we are." After setting the box on the floor, she touched her stinging cheeks, wondering how red they were. The phrase painted woman came to mind, and she suppressed a chuckle. How about a fruit-smacked woman? Did the Plain church frown at that?
An announcement that the market was closing came over the loudspeaker. She bagged the oranges, marked the price, and said goodbye to the woman and then began cleaning up the stand and surrounding area.
It was Saturday evening, and themarket wouldn't be open to customers again until next Thursday. Annie's next day to work would be Wednesday, when all the deliveries arrived and the main prep work was accomplished. She needed to repack whatever was left in the bins and put them in the refrigerator before scrubbing down the units.
The store grew quiet except for a few employees talking to each other from their booths. A piece of loose tin on the roof rattled as the March winds howled. Winter remained shackled to the land, and Annie had long grown weary of waiting for the earth to once again tilt toward the sun.