Saturday, November 16, 2013


On Tuesday, November 12, the Box and I took a trip to Manheim and West Earl in Lancaster, about 50 miles south of Harrisburg. Naturally, the scenic beauty factor was high along route 283, where open fields lie on both sides of the highway, sprinkled with scattered farm buildings and old houses.

My first stop was at Root's Market near Manheim. My mission: buy at least one cherry donut. My friend and former PennDOT crony Bob had been in the hospital and rehab for about three weeks, and, of course, under extreme conditions your mind begins to wander and seek out pleasant thoughts. For Bob, the thought was of a cherry donut upon which he had feasted (if you can all 30 seconds 'feasting') on a previous trip to Root's.

When visiting him, I kept hearing references to this legendary donut. Sometimes, Bob said, he even dreamed about it. I even got a call from him one Monday night to remind me that Root's was open only on Tuesdays.

In the summer, this area is crammed with shoppers and outdoor vendors.
I parked as close as I could to the door of the main building and roared in, pushing aside the old ladies and gents clogging the aisles, and soon arrived before the promised land of cherry donuts. The gods were with me. There was one -- but only one -- cherry donut in the case. I claimed it instantly.

The more I thought of it, being the sole cherry donut at Root's made this one pretty darned special. How special would the Hope Diamond be if you could buy a bagful?

I also purchased a berry-filled sugar-covered donut for our church secretary, who must remain nameless, because she is in a donut-addict recovery half-way house. I was going to be seeing her later in the day.

Next stop was up the aisle, where I contracted for the next Moravian Sugar Cake to come out of the oven. I had to keep myself busy for about half an hour. I watched hot sticky buns being harvested and took pictures of donuts and other stuff as I walked the aisles of the market.

Sugar cake in hand, I was soon back on the road, heading back down 283 to route 30 and then route 23 east toward Bareville, Leola, and West Earl Township.

The first thing I noticed as I turned onto route 23 was the Lancaster Country Club on the right, with its three golf courses, beautiful greens, and stately trees. On the opposite side of the road was an eclectic collection of older homes, of varying styles, each attractive, if not pristine. On the way back I crawled along the berm and took pictures of several of them.

Following route 23 for several miles, I came to Achenbach's Pastries, where I had been on October 26, my birthday, as you may recall from a previous post. I had spoken by phone with the baker about the special buns used by the Lititz Moravian Congregation during their centuries-old Love Feasts. Our church had decided to replicate this unique service in December (more on that in a later post), and I was coming to pick up a dozen buns for a surprise sampling by the planning committee at its meeting that evening.

Pulling up to the store, I saw what surely must be the last roses of summer. These faded beauties hung on long enough to rival the colorful Indian corn used to decorate the posts behind them.

I paid for the buns (not cheap!) and treated myself to one of the long johns for which the bakery is rightly famous.

I was surprised to see all the cinnamon and sugar on top. I thought they'd be more plain.

Below is the love feast bun and the coffee that was served to me in Home Moravian Church, located in Old Salem, North Carolina. I am holding the bun and the cup as the love feast begins. My sister-in-law Robin and her partner Ellen had taken me to this church one Sunday because they knew I would be interested in experiencing a love feast.

After scarfing down that little long john, I was in need of coffee, so stopped (ironically) at Dunkin' Donuts, where I spied this beautiful little MG in the lot.

Approaching Harrisburg again, I noticed this road sign and wondered it if was an invitation to become a more liberal-thinking region.

Later that evening, when the committee met at 5:00 p.m., I whipped out the box of buns and passed them around to great acclaim. The committee loved them! And then rejected them in favor of something that comes in a cellophane wrapper from Philadelphia. Of course, they did not reject them until they had had a second tasting. I licked my wounds by enjoying the leftovers at home.

A second committee met at 6:00 p.m., and around 8:00 p.m. I was pulling up to Bob's rehab center, where he was spending his next-to-last night. Of course, I encountered a locked front door and no receptionist in sight. Instead, a phone hanging on the wall instructed me to call ext. 204, 206, 209, 213, 215, 220 in that order until someone answered. I got lucky. On the second call someone named Phyllis said she'd be right out.

Bob's room was darkened as I entered, and I feared he was asleep. Instead, he was watching an old film on a movie channel. His eyes locked on the white paper bag that is the universal symbol for pastry. As he salivated like Pavlov's dogs, I brought forth the cherry donut and presented it to him. Heaven only knows how I managed to retract my fingers fast enough to keep them. I saw a flash of red cherry filling as the powdered sugar exploded into a cloud.