If you’re a foodie…

Since moving to this part of upstate New York, we’ve discovered some amazing foods at the local farmers’ markets. Corn so sweet, so delicate, so delectable you want to eat it at every meal. Grapes so sweet and thin-skinned that they pop into sugary goodness as soon as you put them in your mouth. And pie….oh yes, the pies. Apple pies. Cherry pies. Fruit flavors so intense that there’s barely enough room for sugar, and yet they’re so sweet. Pastries so flaky like my mom used to make…or even better than my mom made. (Love you, Mom! Love your pie!)

And there seems to be a common denominator to all these lovely foods: they come from Amish or Mennonite farmers.

I know very little about the Amish or Mennonites. I plan to learn more, now that I’m living in an area where they live too. But as I’m going through my own process of simplification, of making life more genuine, of spending my time and my energy and my money on things that matter to me at my core, I wonder how they manage. How do they live their separate lives in this relentless modern world?

Last weekend, we went to Ithaca for the Apple Harvest Festival. Massive crowds of people from all walks of life, with so many ways of marking their separateness from mainstream American society. Hot pink hair. Tattoos. Piercings. Long, flowing, all-natural clothes. Black lipstick. And there amongst the rebels of American society, there were these plain people, entire families, some selling pies and other baked goods, others quietly observing the world around them. As we stopped to watch people ride the Ferris wheel (which, thankfully, none of the kids wanted to ride–I have a healthy fear of Ferris wheels from traveling fairs), I looked around and saw we were standing next to an Amish or Mennonite family watching the Ferris wheel too–the mother and girls in their starched caps, the father and the boys in their plain blue shirts, all in the same fabric. They were so unlike us, and yet, so like us. How do they find their balance in this crazy modern world? How do we?

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