I thought I'd put a more spring-like photo on the website today to counter the gray winter blahs. Even though I do love snow,I can't wait for the warmth of spring!:) This photo was taken in the Amish settlement of Sinking Spring, Ohio on an unusually warm April day and I may just head back there as soon as the first warmth arrives!:)
Looking back at my Amish experiences over the past 23 years I'm struck by so many changes. First, I'm struck by how almost every preconception I had about the Amish turned out to be a misconception. When I was 18-years-old and first discovering this rich religion and culture (there is a lot of debate over whether "Amish" is a religion or culture, I think it's both), I was under the impression that these were a pious, somber, severe people who eschewed contact with outsiders. How wrong I was. Some of the funniest, wittiest, most open and pleasant people I've ever met are Amish. Since those first preconceptions were demolished, the Amish have continually surprised me by challenging the conventional wisdom about their culture. They defy definition in many ways.
Originally, I viewed the Amish as an agrarian population. But even in the late 1980s that was beginning to change, a change that has only accelerated over time. The Amish have diversified into an entrepreneurial economy of cabinet shops, factories, furniture,bent n dent stores, and once unthinkable professions like owning restaurants and mechanical operations. Even the most conservative Amish - the Swartzentrubers - have branched out. The reality is that farming simply can't pay the bills anymore for most Amish. One of my favorite families I've met over the years are the Stutzmans on Sinking Spring Road in southern Ohio. These are some photos from their basket shop. Look at these beautiful baskets! The entire family pitches in to make them and if you're lucky enough to stumble upon their shop (located at 11976 Sinking Spring Road), you'll find the bottom of each basket is etched with the name and age of the Stutzman that made it. If you have not watched my video tour of their shop, click here to watch!
I hope you've all enjoyed the journeys over the years with me to all these different places. I'm excited because I think there will be many more Amish adventures ahead. Stay tuned!