When I saw this week’s challenge theme, my oldest son and I happened to be traveling through Ohio to visit a couple of colleges over his spring break. We had some unscheduled time while staying in Wooster, Ohio to travel the Amish Country Byway of Holmes County, and enjoy the peaceful settings of the extensive Amish communities who have settled there. Ohio has the largest Amish population in the world, with Holmes County boasting an almost 50% Amish population base.
The Amish have resisted change brought by modern technologies, providing a sharp contrast to the world around them. While the formal Ohio scenic byway routes crossed paths with charming towns, shops and classic scenes, I most enjoyed my time meandering the side roads, unmarked by a dividing line or shoulders for traffic. I randomly turned left, turned right, and just followed the scenery for miles. As I drove these country roads, the simplicity of the lives the Amish live seemed natural, while we (the “English” as the rest of us are called) seem to have unnecessarily complicated life in so many ways.
The Amish vary in their attitude and restrictions on photography, but I was very sensitive to assuming the Amish people I crossed paths with would not want to be captured in a photo in an identifiable way, and I tried to be discrete in taking my shots. I approached two Amish gentlemen outside of the bank in the town of Mt. Hope where a row of buggies was parked, and asked if would be acceptable for me to take some photos of the horses and buggies without people in view. They assured me with a smile that would be fine, although I was prepared to respectfully go on my way if the answer was to the contrary.
As I was taking some of my photos, one of the men came back to talk with me about where I was from, and we had an interesting conversation about the local furniture-making economy. The conversation even turned briefly to a little philosophical discussion regarding how this recent economic downturn was perhaps a good reminder to step back from the excessive materialism and “throw away” mentality that seemed so pervasive. Amish furniture is a beautiful example of old world craftmanship, with attention to detail and an intent to have the piece last for generations. The years of a down economy made things very difficult for some time, since fine-quality furniture is considered a luxury by most and one of the first budget items to eliminate when belt-tightening is required. Happily, the gentleman I spoke with indicated that they are enjoying signs of an economic upswing this year, and have reason to believe the future is bright.
Taking the time to enjoy a conversation with this gentleman in Mt. Hope, as well as the time I spent talking with a basketmaker who sold baskets and honey from his home, reminded me of the value of slowing down to enjoy the journey, rather than just seeing the sights.
Ciao! ~ Kat
This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. ”Change” was this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.