Thursday, June 12, 2008

One Group of Americans Unconcerned with Oil Prices

My wife and I toured east-central Ohio yesterday- an area often referred to as 'Amish Country.' The Amish and Mennonites are a simple people whose carbon footprint on the land is next to nothing. This couple moved down the same highway as we, but our car's impact was enormous.

They lead the 'simple life' and, to us in the 21st century, it seems odd. Surely we appear odd to them as well. The Amish use no electricity nor gasoline, content with horses and lanterns. Many of the men were out in the fields cutting their hay while the children tended their strawberry stands aside of the road. We could not help stopping for two brothers who held up a 'strawberrys' sign as we passed by. We turned around went back. The older boy, about 9, said in choppy English, 'Three dollars quart.' As he approached our car with the berries, our two wrlds collided. Bare feet, blue shirt and dark blue pants and straw hat, he handed me the berries and I, sitting in my rented '08 sleek and air-conditioned car, sunglasses on, handed him the money. He stared at us as if we were visitors from outer space, not even smiling when he took the money. He just turned and went back to his brother and grabbed his sign once again. We sped off. Close encounters of the third kind.

Later we stopped at an Amish house that had a sign outside, "Honey, eggs, baskets for sale." Interestingly, we were invited inside the house. The only sound was the clock ticking away in the other room. The milky blue enameled paint of the woodwork enhansed the otherwise stark interior. It was strawberry canning time and an older woman was canning them in the kitchen. I asked permission to snap a photo and she obliged, quickly ducking to the corner of the room.

We purchased a basket and some strawberry preserves from the younger woman, a smile fixed upon her face. While my wife was going through the baskets, I said, in high-German dialect, " My wife has to pick out the basket." The young lady smiled and said, "I like languages." I asked her to say the same sentence in her Swiss-German, aka Pennsylvania Dutch. There were a few minor differences and we both smiled at the outcome.

Wednesday's wash hung out to dry throughout the countryside. Letting nature dry clothes surely beats an electric or gas dryer with added fabric softener. The washing was done without the aid of electricity as well. The simplicity of it all boggles the modern mind. Many of our modern suburbs have rules and regulations banning clotheslines. Unsightly they say.

We would prefer to burn coal in our electric plants and spew out CO2 and SO2 into the atmosphere. After all, we have grown accustomed to the 'good lifestyle' that we can afford.

Wednesday was auction day in Mount Hope and the Amish came to sell and buy livestock and feed. Well behaved children found simple pleasures in looking at a few toys that the English [non-Amish] brought to sell at the flea market on the other side of the barns. They seemed happy although I did not talk to any about their life. No MP3 players, no text-messaging, no hand-held electronic games, these youngsters stayed close to their parents as they wandered through the displays of 'goods' offered by the English. There were no temper tantrums for items not bought, no display of anger at the parents. Just children being children sans the modern gadgets.

We English were the odd ones that day with our desire to have the best, the latest, the most convenient. Fat English men and women sat behing their trucks offering trinkets- not unlike what occured in this very place 250 years ago. Only the names were different: Shawnee, Potawatomie, Ottawa. English offering trinkets to the 'savages.' English devowering the land, burning the forests, modernizing the area.

Look at the mess we have created in an attempt to make the 'good life' for us. Maybe we deserve the 'oil plague' now ravaging our economy. The gluttons are paying the price.

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