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PINECRAFT: AMISH SHANGRI-LA
Amish Snowbirds? Yes, even the Amish need a break from the cold. Between November and March, this tiny community is transformed...

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Mennonites On The Move....

A story in today's International Falls, Minnesota newspaper overlooked the obvious about why a family of Mennonites is moving from that border town to southern California.  WARMTH! Maybe they are moving just to get out of the International Falls ice-box!!!  I love snow, but being plunged into a freezer six months out of the year....no thanks....Mennonites are often mis-caterogized, misunderstood, and lumped in with the Amish.  The Mennonite movement has such a broad spectrum of beliefs that the church defies simple categorizations.  Not all Mennonite churches, for instance, are "plain", in fact, I believe, the majority of them are not.  Anyway, this article in the today's IF paper chronicles a family's planned move to Los Angeles to engage in missionary work. 

This site's top poster, Tom (beating me at my own game!), was nice enough to share a link with me from December's National Geographic.  The magazine offers up a gallery of photos chronicling the disappearing "cowboy culture" out west.  Photo number 11 in the gallery is of a plain Mennonite family. Take a look.  The photo shows Marcel and Jane Troyer living simply, if not rustically, in rural Colorado.  I'd love to know more about them and more about the "Anabaptist cowboys" out there.  If Marcel and Jane were the only ones I had heard of, I'd be tempted to dismiss them as aberrations.  But I have heard of young Amish men going to work in rodeos out west on occasion.  There is, if you consider it, a sort of natural logic to an Amish person working on the range.   The Amish are not averse to hard work, horses, and living with little, all attributes of life as a "cowboy."


Pass Me The....."Amish Sugar????"

The Mansfield News Journal in Ohio had an article that caught my eye today.  The article has nothing really to do with the Amish.  A local church is making a special "nut bread"  called "potica" for an annual holiday fund-raiser.  Sounds delicious and like a worthy project.  In fact, if I were anywhere close to Mansfield I'd be heading over to Saturday's bake sale there where 1000 loaves will be available for the first people to show up.  That said, I raised my eyebrows when one of the bakers talked about how she gets the poticas to taste so good.  The baker says one of the "secrets" is to use organic ingredients and "Amish sugar."   The sugar is "slightly different from store-bought sugar" she says. Huh??  Now I'm not Emeril, I don't know everything about every culinary accessory available.  But isn't sugar basically just processed sugar cane or sugar beets?  Perhaps someone could set me straight and let us all know what "Amish sugar" is?  I'm not saying there isn't such a thing, I'm just not sure what it would be.

A news article in a North Carolina paper caught my eye because the inventor referenced the "Amish" in describing how this game he created provides people with a nostalgic "step back."  I like the game's premise.  The man was complaining how family vacations for them had turned into silent journeys because all their children were "plugged in", meaning listening to an ipod, playing a video game, or watching a DVD.  Now, isn't the silence in the car every parents dream?:)  Okay, that aside, I like their concept that conversation IS a bit of a dying craft as we all become so busy and plugged in.  A few years back I had a business trip to Minnesota.  My mother joined me for the ride because she has some good friends in northern Illinois, which was right on the way.  I was able to drop Mom off there and continue easily onto to Minneapolis.  The seven hours of driving seemed to pass in an almost instant blur of conversation.  For me, talking - especially during a long car ride - is a form of entertainment. It passes time and seems to melt the miles.  This husband and wife lamented the loss of such conversation so....they invented a game.  The game is based on an extremely simple premise that encourages conversation. Sounds like a good thing!

Meanwhile, looks like we did it again. Southwest Ohio ALWAYS seems to miss the big snows, they either pass to our north and even to our south, but rarely right here.  SIGH.


Locke Amish Debate Continues

Earlier this week we featured a story from the Syracuse, New York paper about some ill-will towards the Amish in the small town of Locke.  Seems that some people are unhappy with the "shabby" appearance of a few of the Amish-owned properties in the area.  They aren't the "postcard" perfect manicured farms seen on Lancaster County, Pennsylvania calendars.  So, in response town officials are trying to get the area Amish to comply with local "zoning and code" laws.  One of the laws they were trying to apply to the Amish was a "liability insurance" rule until, oops, they realized the village didn't have such a law.  So now they are trying to pass one.  Just seems like there's some anti-Amish sentinment in this town masquerading as "code enforcement."

Meanwhile, this is a neat article that appeared in Montana about a writer's visit to a Hutterite colony.  The piece succinctly explains some of the differences between Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites.


Leaving the Amish; And Meet MennoMeet

There are a couple of fun reads in the "Amish in the News" section today. One is an interview which appeared in a small Michigan newspaper, the Gladwin County Record. I don't talk much about the Amish community in Clare, Michigan because I'm not all that familiar with it. This is a large rather self-contained settlement (I rolled my eyes at the reporter's use of the word Clare "clan") separated from the larger sprawl of Amish in southern Michigan. The article really gives great insight into the Amish in Clare. This is an interview with an Amish man who left the Clare community and is no longer part of the faith. I liked it because this wasn't a "let's trash the Amish now that I've left" article. This is really provides some great insight into the ways of a specific Amish community. Some - not all - of the reporter's questions were a bit dopey or naive, though. But, on balance, this is a good read.

This is a fun story from the student newspaper of a Mennonite collge in North Newton, Kansas. The author talks about the launch of a new Mennonite singles website. But she good-naturedly pokes fun of Mennonites and explores the possibilities in this piece.


More Deer Stuff

With deer hunting season in full swing, Amish hunters are contributing to wildlife biologists' bank of data to monitor the health of herds.

My first close encounter with a deer was while driving to take my SAT test when I was 17-years-old near Hamilton, Ohio. In broad daylight a big buck sprung out of the brush leaping gracefully right in front of my car. If I had been two seconds earlier it would have gracefully jumped right into my car.

About 10 years ago - again in broad daylight in the middle of July in a busy intersection- a tiny spotted fawn ran right in front of my car. The fawn was running so fast it was barely a blur, I had no hope of stopping in time. The deer's mother made it across the road and stared back wistfully. I felt terrible. From reading posts the past 24 hours it sounds as if many of us have deer stories to share? Stay safe on the roads as they are really on the move this time of year! To read about the health of the herd, click here.


Delaware Studies Home-Birthing Practices

Delaware is the latest state to re-examine it's home-birthing laws.  Whatever the outcome, Amish moms will be impacted since home-birthing is so preferred among Anabaptist women.  The Amish communit


Converting to the Amish; Trouble in Locke


Going Organic......

This is a superb article that appeared in today's Akron Beacon Journal.  This article succinctly describes many of the challenges and changes facing an increasingly non-Agrarian Amis


Amish Restaurant, Hutterite Turkeys


Organic toys?

Before you begin the 4 a.m.