Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Amish Do

Something came in the mail wrapped in a thick Amish newspaper. I ignored the thing inside and sat down with a cup of coffee and read the paper from front to back. I didn't want it to end. Their lives seem so common. Simple. Clean. Unhurried. Uncluttered. Slow. Hard in a good way. Hard in the way that at the end of the day you've done something worthwhile with what you have in your hand. Creating instead of consuming.

It was full of vignettes of the lives of the Amish all over the map. It brought some entertainment right away. Then this odd sense of longing. Afterward, I sat and puzzled over the riddle of what I was yearning for. It isn't being Amish.

Loverby and I grew up almost that set apart from the world, but not quite. We women didn't have to wear the same pattern of dress or head coverings. Men didn't have to wear the beard and hat. Our world wasn't quite so strict or removed from real life. It was close, but not the same.

Still, we had a tribe, a close knit community. We were each other's entire world. Our circle made for a vibrant social life. Of course there were many negatives to this kind of life. There is hiding, lying, and you get so tired of trying to measure up. But, there are also parts I miss.

 Maybe it was just the time we lived in. Perhaps I'm getting old and long for the good old days that actually weren't all that good - only in hind sight.

I don't want that again, but I do yearn for some aspects of a rural farm life with a village full of people who have known you from birth. Families that grow old together. A Wendell Berry sense of place - the lifestyle, not the religion itself. A bit of earth. Some animals. Neighbors who help each other. Watch out for each other. Eat often with each other. Make a life together. Celebrate and mourn together.

A life where the most important thing to write in about is how the neighbor boy broke his arm. He fell when the branch he was on, 15 feet in the air - broke off. He's at home, getting well.

A place where boys still climb trees? For fun. What a thing that would be to see again.

Here, let me give you a tiny taste of how the newspaper read:

The comings and goings of wagonloads of kin.
The names of dinner guests and overnight guests.
The Abner's are getting lots of mail. They need it. Keep it up, folks.
Making and putting by raspberry mush.
Helping the neighbors pot mums, and pull ragweed in a cornfield
Horse sales
Cooking snitz for pies
Cool spells
Hot spells
A headache from being kicked by a horse
Getting the hay in
Grain fields being bindered and shocked
Buggying over to another family's for dinner
Circle letter gatherings
Someone got pinched between the wagon tailgate and a water tank
A work bee announced to help a son put up a metal shop
The corn has tasseled
Crops are suffering from drought
Cracks in the earth. Her little boy's wagon wheel got caught. 

Strawberries are almost past and many people didn't get enough to satisfy their taste buds. And the way it sounds, other fruit will be rare and expensive, so we might have to eat different in the next years. Gardens are looking good, so if nothing happens, we should get plenty of vegetables. Peas are just starting. Haying is almost past and oats is heading out. 

Levi Elmina's boy's had a runaway with the horses, doing damage to the hay mower and manure spreader. The plow was also involved by don't know if it had any damage. 

Jerry and Joyce, long time neighbors and friends, both passed away about 10 months apart, so now their 170 ares will be coming up for sale here after a while. I'm guessing it could fetch a decent price for as there are a number of people around here that are smacking their lips for it, including but not limited to a few Amish neighbors. 
A sister's brother lost his whole sawmill operation in a fire
Runaway horses
Butchering chickens
Cultivating corn 

I'm going to work on my quilt. The coffee's on.

And so must I decide
and choose again today
to create and make a life
that's worth writing about.


Maureen said...

Many, many years ago I visited a working Amish farm in Pennsylvania. I learned a lot about the persecution the Amish suffered (when you know that story you understand the absence of buttons on their clothing), why they still feel called to live apart, to be of yet not so much in our world, and why they allow a period in which their children can test their way in the world. Most come back. They live apart and yet they suffer the same trials, the same longings, the same sorrows we all have. They also know many of the same joys, especially within the community called family.

I come from a large community called family that is very broken up and scattered. Two at a table is never enough.

Every day there is something in the life we have that's worth writing about; just ask the poet Mary Oliver. The hard part is being willing to look and see with open eyes that what we have is what we have, and more often than not, it is enough.


Craig said...

"Simple. Clean. Unhurried. Uncluttered. Slow."
I'll have to read it again to get the rest of the story! (:
My mind couldn't get past these 5 simple words without going into a state of "ahhhh"!

Anonymous said...

i like this.

Kathleen Overby said...

Maureen, "two at a table is never enough" that is so true. I am reading all the Mary Oliver I can get my hands on. You're right. It is enough. The ordinary. The commonplace. What we have is good, just like it is. Thanks.

Susan said...

I've erased my reply 3 times b/c you say it all. I'm CHOOSING to live a simple life.

Anonymous said...

Lovely ending to your post, Kathleen! That must have been a great read, that paper! How interesting, the glimpse of a different world...

Anonymous said...

Creating instead of consuming . . .