Monday, March 13, 2017

A Drive Through Amish Country

Indiana is not all in the same time zone. Here in the North-Eastern part we are on East Coast time. In the Northwestern part, where I am from, they are on Central time. Because of this, as I travelled on Saturday, the light on the farm fields was amazing.

I left at 8 so the sun was up but at that perfect angle that makes the photographer in me drool. As it is generally frowned upon to do digital SLR photography while driving, I had to be content with just enjoying the moments.

I had the new Ed Sheeran on the WiFi jack.  I love his music so much. This album is so personal and autobiographical my thoughts kept wandering to personal thoughts of my own.

 I was going to see a relative of my mom's who had old photos that she wanted help identifying.  I thought of my mom and dad, and the fact that the  anniversaries of their deaths are coming up. Dad's will be five years tomorrow. Mom's will be 3 years next week. I found parallels in the songs. Stories Ed Sheeran told that I wished I could do as succinctly played on the radio as the stories I wished I could tell played in my head.

I had to pass through Amish country to get to my destination. Passing buggies and people riding bikes with the sun bathing the fields in golden light made me think of my ancestors who settled in my hometown. German ancestors who rode in buggies and farmed fields by hand and hung laundry out to dry on lines are who I am from. I wondered if anyone else driving was in awe of the beauty all around. Do the Amish notice anymore since it is what they live every day?

As I drove, I thought about the fact that I was driving a vehicle and waiting for the part of the drive where I could go 65/70 miles an hour. A van that could comfortably hold 7 and that had heat.  I was listening to music I transferred from my google account to my phone that I then cast it to the WiFi jack, because the CD player is not working. All the while passing people who have no idea who Ed Sheeran is and have chosen a life that seems so much harder than the one the rest of have chosen.

The dichotomy really struck me.

Coming home, the sun was once again behind me and was starting to set all golden again. The relative had a portrait on the wall of my grandfather's family where he is between 12 and 15. I took photos of it. She had albums of my mom's side of the family that she gave me. There are photos of my grandfather as a young man before my grandmother or my mom. There are photos of family gatherings where everyone is in a big group. I had no idea there were photos of people at the beach or posing by the DANGER Railroad crossing sign in the 19teens and 20s.  I thought everything then was still formal and posed by professionals.  Every picture I see makes me want more. Is there someone somewhere who has a photo of my great-great grandparents? What about the other sides of the family? Where are those photos?

 I should be satisfied.  I know this. 5 years ago I had no idea the pictures I would now have. I am grateful.

Grateful but I want more connections. I want to see me in those faces. I want to see my children in the childhood faces of my ancestors. I want to know their stories. Are any of them the same as my story?

Grandpa is between his mom and dad -- the youngest in the family --born in 1897.  What stories could he tell if he were alive today?

I looked it up and the Amish do not believe in posing for photos. Perhaps the connection they have to the past through community is enough to satiate the need for knowledge of what came before.

I want more.

It's amazing what a little music, while driving through Amish country bathed in golden light, can bring to mind.

1 comment:

  1. I loved traveling along with you today. I think your enjoying the beauty without capturing it on film was an acknowledgement of the Amish in all of us. We can just enjoy and be present.