When I moved to this neck of the woods, right next to and among the Amish, I was just filled with giddy. Yes, I came with all sorts of grand ideas about them... most of which were romanticized by media of all sorts. Now that I have been here for little over a year I have come to an understanding that being Amish can mean a hundred different things and some of it does not look like “Saving Sarah Cain”. Sad but true.
Don't get me wrong, living here has taught me a lot about living an off grid life style, and about homesteading. And this experience I would not trade either... but imagine with me a slow drive down Amish Lane.
Plain clothes flapping in the breeze on the line, along the porch at the front of the house. Little ones running about with bonnets and straw hats... white signs of sell-ables at the end of each dirt drive. Chickens, cows, goats and sheep... rolling hills and the faint sound of the horse and buggy clopping down the road. Serene and beautiful. That is until you look in the back of the buggy and see a white Wal-Mart bag filled to the brim with Cheese Puffs and Mountain Dew.
Yep – those neon green bottles where an image killer. They opened my eyes to see what was really going on beyond my 'romanticized' glasses. Upon closer interactions I have learned that being Amish doesn't always mean wholesome practices, homesteading or other wise. True - I wholeheartedly agree that there is a wealth of information one can learn from their culture and lifestyle... but I don't think one should accept the label of being Amish as meaning completely untouched from modern farming (and living) practices.
I have seen the use of pesticides, and knowing this I have had to work a little harder at learning how to ask the right questions. Taking the time to get to know my local food producers. Because I am an Englisher to them, I think there may always be an invisible wall, or at the very least a language barrier. But through this process comes the gleaning of information...
Moses kept me there talking for about an hour, telling me of his father's hunting escapes and what they did when their dogs were snake bitten. Lydia, whom told us about the Amish store, sells eggs and shared with us her noodle making process and Abe, always pleasant and approachable. He sells us saw dust for our composting toilets for a dollar. :)
No more are they romanticized characters of my ideal dream life, but rather real souls with families and stories. With hurts and struggles just like the rest of us. With practices that I would love to learn more about and some – I will choose to leave out.