A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, Tracy Fredrychowski writes Amish fiction that emphasizes God, family, and community. Starting her writing career as a ghostwriter for some of the leading blogs and magazines across the country, her current series “Love Blooms at the Apple Blossom Inn” is just a taste of the sweet, clean and wholesome stories she enjoys writing.
Tracy Hey there, welcome to another episode of Buggy Talk. I’m your host, Tracy Fredrychowski. Each week I bring you the story behind the stories, along with the storytellers. I have something different plan for this week’s episode. I gave our favorite authors the week off to enjoy the fourth with their families. So, I thought I’d take this week, myself.
As many of you know, I just released Love Blooms at the Apple Blossom Inn. A sweet and I mean, yummy sweet, since it includes twenty of Maggie’s recipes, straight from the kitchen of the Apple Blossom Inn.
I have to tell you, I had such fun writing Maggie story, mainly because I’m an inspiring baker myself. When I’m not writing or working in our marketing business. You’ll often find me in the kitchen, trying a new recipe. Some have been showstoppers and others have gone straight into the trash, but nevertheless, I love whipping up tasty treats.
So back to Maggie Fisher and her move to Willow Springs, if you’ve enjoyed any of my other books, you’ll know that all of my stories take place in a small Northwestern, Pennsylvania town called Willow Springs.
I don’t know about you, but when I read a story that is set in a town I’ve read about before, it makes me feel like I’m visiting old friends. In Love Blooms, you’ll see Emma Byler from secrets of Willow Springs and her brother, Matthew, as they make a guest appearance in Maggie and Henry story,
Maggie, she’s a bit sassy and a tad bit bullheaded when it comes to dealing with businessman, Henry Schrock, but to make matters worse. Mrs. Sorenson owner of the Apple blossom in is a grouchy old woman who tries Maggie’s patience. In this story. Maggie is sent to live with her elderly spinster, aunts who are known best for their matchmaking skills determined not to fall for the first man.
She’s out to prove to her dad, she doesn’t need any help finding a suitable husband. So if you’re looking for a sweet summer story to read, you’ll be sure to enjoy this book.
As a treat today, I’m going to read you the first chapter and you can decide for yourself if you’d like to read the rest of Maggie and Henry story.
So here goes, enjoy Love Blooms at the Apple Blossom Inn.
aggie Fisher stood on the porch, potholders in hand looking through the glass of the wood-fired double oven. The sheltered porch did little to stop the Central Wisconsin wind from sending clouds of powdered snow up under her skirt. The outdoor kitchen her Datt built five years ago was a welcomed relief to the summer heat but did little to warm her in the coldest months of the year.
A soft glow was starting to peek its way above the horizon, and it wouldn’t be long before the first of their regular Friday customers began to make their way up the long winding driveway that led to their in-home bakery. Her oldest bruder was already clearing the snow from the driveway, and Hannah, her youngest schwester, was busy putting whipped frosting between layers of chocolate hand pies. Maggie smiled as she thought how it took the whole family to make sure the bakery opened by eight every morning, except Sundays, of course.
Cracking the oven door just far enough to see if the edges of the sugar cookies were the perfect golden brown, she reached in and lightly touched her finger in the center of the cookie checking if they were done. Glancing up at the timer, she rarely used. A longing filled her heart as she remembered how her Mamm had joked about neither of them needing a timer; they both instinctively knew something was done by how it smelled. She couldn’t explain it, and neither could her Mamm, that was before she died two years earlier. After placing the hot cookie trays on the bakers rack near the door, it would only take a few minutes before they were cooled and ready to frost.
Hearing the squeak of the rusty hinges, she turned her head in the direction of Hannah’s voice.
“Datt is headed out to the barn and said he wants to talk to you when you’re caught up. I can take those if you want.” Hannah said as she reached for one of the trays.
“The barn, why would he want me to go there? He knows I need to finish these cookies. The shop opens in less than an hour. Oh, help!”
Pulling her heavy black coat tighter around her middle, she walked down the steps and tucked her chin close to her chest, bracing herself against the wind that whipped across the open yard.
The pungent odor of manure mixed with the sweet smell of hay tickled her nose as soon as she pushed the heavy steel door open. Steam rose from the nostrils of the full uttered Brown Swiss cows that lined either side of the barn. Milking all forty cows twice a day by hand, her Datt and bruders worked filling ten-gallon milk cans that lined the milk house wall. Every ounce, except the little he let her keep, to make cheese and butter for the bakery, was sold to the cheese factory in town.
Walking to where her Datt sat with his head rested on the side of a cow, she waited until he stood to empty his bucket before she spoke.
“Hannah said you wanted to see me.”
Carrying the silver bucket with him, he motioned his head in the direction of the milk house and didn’t say a word but expected her to follow. Once inside the clean small cinder block addition, he poured the bucket of fresh milk through the filtered lined bucket in the stainless steel sink.
“Shut the door,” he said in a gruff voice.
Waiting patiently for him to get to his point, she tried not to seem aggravated that he had interrupted her baking. He was a man of few words, and she knew all too well not to rush him.
Turning to face her, he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back on the sink and asked.
“You’ll be twenty-four next month, right?”
“I suppose so, why?”
Picking up the towel that hung over the edge of the sink, he said.
“It’s time you find a husband.”
Shocked by his comment, it took her a few seconds to fully comprehend what he said before she answered. “What for?”
“What do you mean, what for? I’m sure your Mamm had that talk with you a long time ago.”
Not typically prone to embarrassment, she couldn’t help but blush at her Datt’s mention of the ‘talk.’
“I know that,” she said in a hushed tone. “I mean, why do you think I need a husband now? There’s too much to do around here to worry about such things.”
Standing up straight and turning to check on the milk that was trickling through the layers of cheesecloth, he said. “My point exactly. As long as you’re busy taking care of this family, you won’t make time to start one of your own.”
“But I don’t mind. I love baking, and I wouldn’t dream of letting Mamm’s bakery business go.”
With a stern voice, he answered.
“Hannah is more than capable of taking over the bakery, so I’m sending you to your aunts in Pennsylvania.
“To Willow Springs?” she said in a louder than respectable tone.
“You leave on the Greyhound first thing Monday morning. A driver will take you to the bus station, and your Great Aunts will secure a driver to pick you up in New Castle. You should arrive late Tuesday afternoon.”
Trying to control the heaviness creeping up in her chest, she decided to soften her tone before she continued. “But Datt, what on earth am I going to do in Willow Springs? I don’t know anyone there, and all I know about Aunt Teena and Lizzie is they’re spinsters. If they couldn’t find a husband there, what makes you think I will?”
“Not sure you will. Especially since you’ve chased every boy within twenty miles of this place away with your sharp tongue. I’m figuring if I send you to a new town, your reputation might not follow you, and there might be some fellow willing to give you a try.”
“Datt, how can you say such things?”
“Can you prove me wrong?”
Not answering his question, but pleading with him, she said. “But you need me around here.”
“As I said, Hannah is plenty old enough, and I’ll be chasing her off this farm as well someday.”
Lowering herself to a milking stool near the door, she propped her elbows on her knees and rested her chin in her palms. Looking up at him, she said. “You can’t be serious.”
“Look, I promised your Mamm I wouldn’t expect you to fill her shoes forever. It’s been two years now; it’s time.”
Shifting his weight and running his hand through his brown and white speckled beard, he said. “You have a job waiting for you at the Apple Blossom Inn.”
Pouring the filtered milk in the waiting can, he secured the lid, picked up the empty bucket, and headed toward the door. Stopping only long enough to say. “You have many wonderful qualities, but your eagerness to always have the last word …well, that might take a special kind of man.”
Letting his words sink in, he paused in the doorway to add. “For sure and certain, you won’t find him here in Tomah.”
As if she was frozen to the stool, Maggie didn’t move even after her Datt had long gone. Thinking to herself, she thought. How can he send me off to live in a strange town, with people I barely know, it’s plain crazy! The last thing I need right now is a husband.
The way she saw it, he didn’t hold much hope of her finding a suitable mate in her community. All of her friends were already married with children of their own, but she was hardly spinster material. Or was she?
Monday morning came quickly, and the goodbyes were harder than she imagined. However, she knew her siblings were more than capable of keeping the bakery running and helping Datt on the farm.
Only five hours into her twenty-hour bus ride, and she was already missing home. Outside the bus window, the flat windmill littered landscape of northern Indiana didn’t do anything to soothe her wounded spirit. The bleak gray of winter matched her mood identically. The thought of her Datt being so quick to send her away without considering her feelings left her dismayed.
Closing her eyes and laying her head against the cold window, she tried to create a picture of her sweet Mamm. Every time she thought of her, she had to push the memories of her sick in bed aside and remember the good times they had. Time spent baking and gardening together. They shared a love for baking, but their personalities were the complete opposite. Hers was more like her Datt’s with his quick wit and bossy exterior. The only difference being, it was alright for a man, but not for a woman. Something she failed to learn on her own yet.
It wasn’t that she wouldn’t enjoy accepting a buggy ride home from a Sunday evening youth gathering, but she hadn’t met any boy that enjoyed her playful bantering. The way she saw it, most of the boys in her Old-Order Community wanted a wife that would be seen and not heard. God willing, she’d be able to find a man who allowed her a voice of her own. Reasoning with herself, being the oldest girl of twelve children, she needed to be a bit bossy and sometimes even a know-it-all to keep order in a family that size.
Opening her eyes when the bus driver announced they’d be stopping in Elkhart, Indiana, she focused her attention out the window as semi after semi passed them on Interstate 90. She had never been this far from home and surrounded by so many strangers at that. She may be almost twenty-four, but she had never ventured more than twenty-five miles from home. A little part of her was excited about the adventure, but a big part of her wanted nothing more than to be back home, baking bread, and taking care of her family.
Pulling into the hotel parking lot that doubled as a curbside bus station, she waited her turn to exit the bus and stretch her legs. Pulling her heavy black bonnet snug around her chin, she walked up and down the sidewalk, rubbing her hands together for warmth. Keeping a close eye on the bus, she took the time to take in the surroundings. Maybe traveling to Pennsylvania wasn’t so bad after all, it was forcing her out of her comfort zone. Pulling her black purse draped over her shoulder tighter, she remembered the money her Datt had given her along with specific instructions to keep it close.
The dark clouds above wasted no time in letting a new dusting of snow cover her black bonnet, forcing her to find warmth back on the bus. Settling back into her seat near the window, she continued to watch passengers check their tickets with the driver and find a place. The last one to enter was a young man who appeared to be close to her age. His wide-brimmed black hat and wool coat gave her comfort in a way she couldn’t explain. Dropping her head just as he turned to look toward the back of the bus, she waited until he took a seat before lifting her head. He settled into a seat near the window and removed his jacket and hat and lay them in the seat beside him. She took notice of the way his dark hair had matted a circle around his head, and the ends had flipped up in small waves even after he removed his hat. She caught a glimpse of his purple collar and wondered what community allowed such a vivid shade of violet. Wishing her community allowed such worldly colors; purple was one of her favorites.
For the next four hours, she stared at the back of his head, wondering all kinds of things that she hadn’t allowed herself to daydream about in a very long time. Only when the bus driver came on the intercom to say they would be stopping in Toledo, Ohio did she shake her head and push the thoughts of the dark-haired stranger from her mind.
Pulling her ticket from her purse and reading through the stops listed on it, she noticed her layover would be eight hours. Taking in a deep breath, she wondered what on earth she’d do for such a long time. Nibbling on her bottom lip, she remembered the promise she’d made to her Datt to stay close to the bus and not talk to strangers.
After the bus came to a complete stop, the driver instructed them to check their tickets for the time of their connecting bus. He mentioned this was his last stop, and they all would need to exit the bus. Again, her stomach churned with the thoughts of sitting for eight hours with nothing to do. She packed a few sandwiches but wasn’t in the least bit hungry. Once the driver opened the door, she gathered her belongings and stood to put her jacket on. As she tied her bonnet around her chin, she glanced at the gentleman who captured her attention. He stood and turned in her direction. Placing his hat back on his head, he tipped the rim and nodded at her as he caught her looking his way. In an instant, her face warmed as she glanced away before he realized she’d been watching him.
Letting all the passengers file out first, she was the last to pick up her suitcase waiting on the curb. Following everyone through the double doors and into the station, she stood off to the side, taking in the cold room. Looking for a seat, she headed to the corner, away from the most congested areas. Glancing at the location of the arrival and departure screen, it didn’t take long for her to understand the computerized chart. Looking toward the washroom and then down at her bags, she was surprised when a voice behind her said.
“You can leave your bags with me if you’d like.”
Turning toward the voice, she found herself staring back into the stormy gray eyes of the stranger on the bus. Unable to speak, she grunted something inaudible and carried her bags in the direction of the women’s restroom. Once inside and away from his eyes, she leaned up against the wall and caught her breath. Lightly bouncing the back of her head off the wall, she thought to herself. What was that all about? Since when do I open my mouth, and nothing comes out? Maybe I can just stay here until it’s time for my bus to leave.
Looking around the dimly lit room, staying in the dirty restroom wasn’t an option. Locating an open seat, she scanned the room for the familiar dark hair. When her search didn’t reveal his location, she pushed the small brown leather suitcase under her chair, giving ample room for someone to sit beside her if need be. Reaching for the book from her bag, she found her marked spot and blocked out everything around her and escaped to the story inside.
It had only been a few minutes into her book before she caught a glimpse of the man as he sat beside her. Trying to act as if she didn’t notice him, she pulled her legs in tight, refusing to acknowledge his presence. Trying to keep her attention in the book, she became frustrated at reading the same sentence twice, forcing her to close it and lay it on her lap.
As he draped his heavy jacket over his knee, the movement released the distinctive aroma of burned wood. It reminded her of her Datt after he’d been outside stoking the furnace on a rainy day. Her stomach flipped as she thought he smelled just like a man should.
Turning in her seat away from him, she closed her eyes and tried to push the crazy thoughts from her head. Why on earth was she thinking all these things about a stranger she hadn’t even met. Embarrassed by her reaction to him, she picked up her belongings and moved to a seat across the room.
Minutes dragged on forever as the clock ticked away one hour at a time. All she wanted was to continue her journey. Far away from the man that captivated her thoughts in an unladylike manner. Allowing herself to look his way one last time, she followed his broad shoulders out the door to the bus headed to Akron.
So, there you have it. The first chapter of Love Blooms at the Apple Blossom Inn.
That wraps up this week’s episode. Next week, we’ll have Jennifer Spredemann on as our guests to talk about her latest project, along with her part in the Amish Christmas Miracle Collection. So, we’ll see you next week on the Buggy Talk Podcast.