Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Amish Country



I've never been an early adopter of technology. "Remember, I'm descended from the Amish." I'll say, "I'm still suspicious of electricity!" Actually, I am descended from the Mennonites (motto: "Amish Lite"). Both the Amish and the Mennonites were in the background of my upbringing. Mennonite farmers sold meats and produce at the local farmer's market. One reason I fail to eat enough fruits and vegetables as an adult is that grocery store produce is bland and tasteless compared to the farm produce I was raised on. When I was a teenager, every week my mother would get up early one day to go to the farmer's market. She'd store perishables in the refrigerator where she worked until it was time to go home. While working two jobs, it was surely no small feat to get up early and out the door in order to get the freshest foods for us. She'll arrive next week with my sister and niece, and my mother will bring some hometown favorite foods for the cast and crew of "Herding Cats".

The Amish, by nature of their lifestyle, were more of a distant background in my childhood, but there they were nonetheless. We often saw horses and buggies while on the way to my grandmother's house. More recently, when I've been able to return home as an adult, my father would take me for a motorcycle ride out into Lancaster County. As incongruous as it seems, there's no scenery more beautiful than riding on a Harley through Amish country on a fine autumn day. We'd wave at the farmers and they'd wave at us. Live and let live was the motto on both sides.

My father (another technophobe) hired a former Amish man to work in the family business. One bad experience with computers caused said computers to be returned immediately and my father went back to calculator, pencil and paper. When he was ready to retire and looking for a billing clerk, the only person who would do the job without a computer was a former Amish man.

My dad told me this true story, but first, a little background info. Like many retirees, my dad and stepmother have a custom van in which they do all their travelling. They're now on Van 2. Van 1 logged hundreds of thousands of miles across the U.S. and Canada. They also like to attend antiques auctions, and although they are not avid collectors, they buy something now and then that fits into their home decor or collections (dad: firearms, stepmother: dolls).

One frigid winter's day, they were driving through Amish country (probaby to or from an antique auction) in Van 1, which was very well appointed. Like it's successor Van 2, Van 1 sported captains chairs, a bench seat in the back, window shades, lights, carpet, and all the comforts of automobile travel. My father came across an Amish family who's horse had been spooked by something and the buggy had overturned in the ditch. My father stopped to assist the man. It was obviously going to take some time to right the buggy, calm the horse and get the family back on the road. The day was bitter cold, and my father well knows the ways of the Amish. However, he offered the Amish man's wife and children haven in the warm, cozy van while he helped the man get the horse and buggy road-ready. The humble Amish stoutly refused my father's offer, even after my stepmother added her own insistence. My father's physical strength always surprises me, and the Amish man and his family were able to continue on their way.

Last week's Amish schoolhouse shooting touches me personally. That a psycho would take out his frustrations on these humble and peaceful people is almost unbelievable.
"Like shooting fish in a barrel" seems a crude but apt metaphor. The last safe haven in America is a target for a nutcase out there with an ax to grind, yet the Amish have resigned to their fate without calls for justice, demonstrations, counter-violence or lawsuit. Surely a lesson for us all.

18 Comments:

At 6:36 PM, October 10, 2006, Blogger Brandy said...

I felt almost the same way. A world untouched by violence until now. Where the modern man tried to destroy the simple way of life.

 
At 5:06 AM, October 11, 2006, Blogger halfmanhalfbeer said...

i Was physically sickened when I read the news about this senseless atrocity. The evilness and madness of some people is just so incomprehensible.

HMHB

 
At 12:10 PM, October 11, 2006, Blogger Godknows said...

Look at your picture makes me want to jump into it jsut to feel and touch the snow. No snwo in Viet Nam.

 
At 6:30 AM, October 12, 2006, Blogger April said...

i was so angry about that shooting. for so many reasons. it made me sick. it really ruined the whole week for me. everytime i saw a photo of the guy on the news, i wanted to punch him in the face. because he obviously (from the things he brought into the school with him) wanted to torture and molest those girls.

then i found out some of the surviving girls were here in philly at children's hospital. and that the amish community had forgiven him already!!! they even started a fund for the girls' families AND the killer's wife and children. and i realized that harboring hate for the person really brings you down, and makes you feel more worse than forgiving.

i'm so sick of the violence in this country. so sick of it.

it's crazy here too. because amish country isn't too far away, and the media here are shameless. they've basically invaded the community.

 
At 6:23 AM, October 16, 2006, Blogger Wendy said...

That's a lovely post, Junebee. I know the beauty of Lancaster County on a motorcycle - awesome.

Yes, we can all learn something from the Amish and the way the murders were handled in the community.

 
At 3:11 AM, October 17, 2006, Blogger creative-Type Dad (Tony) said...

I think the Amish world is so fascinating.

I just can't imagine why anybody would want to intentionally hurt them.

 
At 4:13 PM, October 19, 2006, Blogger chanchow said...

I saw some Mennonites in Belize. I believe they are from Germany by way of Canada. They have become very successful farmers in Belize, growing watermelon and other fruits and vegetables in what is infertile soil. I remember hearing that some of them drive cars and use other modern tools and are called "mechanites."

 
At 6:16 PM, October 19, 2006, Blogger Lin said...

Very well put. It's a world gone wrong.

 
At 5:06 AM, October 20, 2006, Blogger black feline said...

It's really sad....i remember watching a movie by Harrison Ford...about the Amish community?

 
At 7:32 PM, October 22, 2006, Blogger Liz said...

Yes, it really is very sad. Sometimes I wonder what is going on in the world.

 
At 9:00 PM, October 24, 2006, Blogger Zambo said...

Hey Junebee.

I hope you and yours are well.

I really don't know what to say about that schoolhouse shooting that hasn't already been addressed...

That "3 Things Meme" post was interesting...I learned a few new things about you...I hope when Branch and Blossom are older, you all get to go to China together...Bring your motorcycle!

Take care out there, Junebee!

Your Pal,

Zambo.

 
At 9:50 PM, November 04, 2006, Blogger Spidey said...

Hey!
You're still alive :)

When are you going to catch us up??

 
At 11:30 AM, November 08, 2006, Blogger black feline said...

junebee...pls come back soon!

 
At 1:10 PM, November 08, 2006, Blogger Zambo said...

Hey Junebee!

I hope all is well these days.

Just checking in...

Take care out there!

Your Pal,

Zambo.

 
At 12:30 PM, November 14, 2006, Blogger black feline said...

hi friend,

hope all is welll...miss your blog :(

 
At 11:31 AM, November 16, 2006, Blogger swissmiss said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog so often and I hope to see you posting again soon.

 
At 9:37 AM, November 21, 2006, Blogger buffalodickdy said...

It seems odd. We as a nation protect the Amish way of life.We protect them from wars, to live in religious freedom, to earn a living by the way they choose. But no nation can protect them from a lunatic-who they forgave.

 
At 5:39 PM, November 22, 2006, Blogger kazumi said...

Ok... it's time to come back now Junebee!! Exciting life or boring life, we still want to hear from you! xx

 

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