Pioneer Mania

When I was a little girl I was crazy about reading.

I am still crazy about reading.

But I’m talking about 7-years-old and crazy about reading. I was especially crazy about Laura Ingalls Wilder. She was my first Phase. I am a Phasical person. I read all of the Little House series and then managed to clean the church library of every Laura Ingalls Wilder ancestor book there was. I loved the phrase 'olden days' and used it as often as possible.

Today, we happen to be on Lake Erie performing at the Lakeside Chautauqua (perks of being a performing artist: performing at vacation destinations all summer), which is a gorgeous place with old colonial houses and cottage gardens (my current Phase) and farmers markets. 

I first learned about Lake Erie because Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about it in her books. She and Almanzo buggy-rode past Lake Erie on one of the most famous dates in These Happy Golden Years (ahhh…how romantic!).

At night, when I was 8-years-old, I would pray that God would let me time-travel back for just one day, or one week, to know how it felt to wear dresses and ride in buggies pulled by horses and live in a little cabin on the prairie or in a dugout by the five Great Lakes.

One morning I was so despondent that I burst into tears because I couldn’t be Laura Ingalls Wilder.

At some point or other, after I had read These Happy Golden Years for the 7th time, I discovered that there were people who lived in the here and now and they actually lived like the pioneers.

They were called the Amish.

And thus my next Phase began. I was determined that I was going to be Amish one day. They wore bonnets and dresses and black boots and didn’t have electricity and rode in buggies and lived on farms!!! In my homeschooling I had primers which told the story of a very sweet Amish family who sewed dolls and read books and rescued the cat that they had dressed up like an Amish doll and which had run up a tree.

Then thanks to Amazon, I found books that told me who the Amish were and how they lived. So I voraciously read all about them. I wrote a short story about an Amish girl who wanted to play the harp but couldn’t because they didn’t allow music in some Amish sects and ended up converting their musical belief because she healed a sick person with her harp playing in the tradition of David and Saul. 

Whenever we traveled through states with larger Amish populations I would stare out the window at the white frame houses and red barns, the clothes hanging on the line, at the black buggies with the people inside, and I would yearn to go knock on those doors and meet real Amish people. 

Eventually I grew up a bit more, and decided there were actually a very many things I couldn’t agree with about the Amish. 

But there always lingered an idyllic nostalgia, a warm fuzzy feeling in my gut, about the Amish and the simple life. Which is why when we started coming to Shipshewana, Indiana to perform in the Blue Gate Theater I found myself very sentimentally in love with it..

It is a lovely little place, with gardens and cute houses and nice hotels and downhome restaurants, shops run by the Amish with all kinds of Amish goods, quilts and furniture and nick-nacks. It illustrates the beauty of the Amish lifestyle. There are whole barns of Amish cheeses and produce. The Amish work in the community and live around the community. If you go on a buggy ride, the Amish driver might tell you how the tourist community has completely changed their economic system, so that they are all able to have town jobs instead of struggling on farms. There are books about the Amish, theaters that put on plays about the Amish and also bring in musicians.

So, in the midst of all this exploration, I go backstage before a concert and see an Amish dress and bonnet hanging on a rack. 

Oh my goodness! It is my dream come true. To wear an Amish outfit. To look like an Amish person.

I try it on super fast and snap some pictures of myself to capture the moment before anybody catches me.

Whew! That life goal accomplished.

Happy Flashback Friday! ;-)