A few weeks ago my husband and I went to a rural produce auction an hour's drive from our home. The vegetables, fruits, and flowers were fresh, bright, and beautiful.
The produce was the harvest of Amish farmers. While the auctioneer's hum invited the purchase of hundreds of pots of chrysanthemums, I wandered around and took photos of the produce, then of the horses and buggies. As I looked through the camera's lens it suddenly occurred to me that I was looking at a way of life that was akin to that of my rural ancestors a hundred or more years ago.
The adults and children, wearing simple styles of clothing, quietly visited with each other as they watched the auction's proceedings. Little children shyly peeked out from behind their parents' legs. The teams of horses were equipped for pulling farm wagons with heavy loads. Individual horses were harnessed to lighter buggies carrying one or two people. I imagined the homes in which the Amish live and the modern conveniences they live without. The simple lives of the Amish must mirror the simpler lifestyles of my ancestors.
As I looked at one of the wagons I thought of my great-great-grandfather who was a wagon-maker. The horses called my mind to my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who farmed with horses. The hand sewn clothing reminded me that my great-great-grandmothers hand-stitched clothing for their husbands, their children, and themselves. I thought of wood-burning stoves and ovens giving service to my great-grandmothers to make meals for their hard-working husbands and sons. Certainly the pre-modern ways of the Amish are akin to the ways of my ancestors.
I'm grateful for modern conveniences and technology but I find it's good to occasionally turn back the clock and visit areas where people live simple lives similar to the ways my ancestors lived. In some small way I think it connects me to them in a way different from finding their names and dates in documents and newspapers. It brings the reality of their lives to life, if only just a little.
Copyright © 2014 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.