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Friday, June 4, 2010

Amish Country, Bird-In-Hand




Upon entering Bird-in-Hand (the real name of the town, no joke) I wanted the full effect. Cell phone off. And it would remain off for the full day. No email, Rockies twitter updates or browsing the internet. We were in Amish country now. Pennsylvania has the second largest population in the nation at about 51,000 people, right behind Ohio.
A Mennonite guide, Minoh, took my family on a buggy ride through the pristine land. Seeing the Amish plow their yards, ride smaller than usual bicycles and walk down the street in no hurry with baked goods in hand made me want to take our horse off track, hitch up a plow and work along with them. I just had so many questions!
I noticed facial hair is a hit here! When married, a man grows out his beard. When I asked our guide if that was there way of saying “Taken,” he looked shocked. There I was in Bird-in-Hand and felt like I had my foot in my mouth. It’s more of a tradition 
You will notice plain clothing because the Amish believe in humility and do not want to stand out. Aprons are common for women and felt hats for men in the winter and straw hats in the summer. Staying separated from the world is part of their belief system, which also trickles to their beliefs on electricity. They do use bottled for water heaters, modern stoves and refrigerators. The Amish do not necessarily believe electricity is evil, but it could lead to the determination of the church, family and lead into temptations. The only temptation I was feeling that day was shoo fly pie.
Have you ever heard of shoo fly pie? The name threw me off, eating a pie with the word fly attached to it was not on my wish list. But after reading the ingredients I found nothing out of the ordinary. Molasses is the main ingredient, which attracts flies, so when put on the table the flies come swarming and are shooed away. But the pie itself, no need to shoo that away!
The one room school houses intrigued me. Old fashioned in a good way. But Looks like you can’t use the excuse of getting lost in the maze of halls from going from classroom to classroom here.
The Amish are very self sufficient. But there is debate about the modern world entering their lifestyle. Our guide, Minoh, told us they don’t own cars, but are not opposed to taking rides from anyone with a car. You will find Amish people at Wal-Mart buying clothes or food, which are of course produced with electricity. Some say this is hypocritical.
The modern world could be seeping in, but the faith is strong. There is something special about the simple life. Less stress, no competition, or comparisons. There is something admirable about choosing self-denial over comfort. I do however believe in originality and not sticking to a mold. If there was a way to abolish judgmental people and stick to your own character, that’s where you would find me, alongside a piece of shoo fly pie of course!

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