Last summer we vacationed in Montana, as we do every summer, and visited an Amish community there. We've had it on our to do list for a few years, but finally made the drive from Kalispell up to just below the border of Canada in the middle of no where to dine with the Amish. I have to admit it was not what I was hoping for. We paid a $10/person fee to eat at their diner/gift shop/market open on Fridays, which was actually very pleasant, but seemed very modern. They used central lighting and had lot of amenities like refrigerators, freezers, a bathroom, processed foods and a cash register! Lets just say they were prepared for tourists like us. I'm pretty sure they set it up this way so we city folk can get a taste of their lifestyle w/out getting uncomfortable. I heard beforehand that Amish people host these dinners as a way to educate others and bring in new people to their community, but we had little interaction with them. Yes the did serve us food, but were much like any other waitress.
After we ate, I explored the gift shop with my girlfriend (also a sewist), and thats when I fell in love with quilts (again). They probably weren't the typical Amish quilts, but I still loved them and wished I had photographed them. They were made with all sorts of colors and fabrics. No colors any Amish pupil would ever wear, which is probably why they became a quilt. There was lots of handmade items in their shop from soap to jams and cards to cookbooks. Hmmm and the Huckleberry Jam! I wish I still had some.
After the shop we went for a walk. Above, is a picture of me and my family in front of the school house. The school house reminded me of Little House on the Prairie show with a teeter-totter, and merry-go-round. The school also had outhouses; one for boys and one for girls, unlike the shop where tourist need proper sanitary restrooms. Next we headed to their furniture warehouse. The business' receptionist (not Amish), gave us the tour. This my husband was very excited about (he has a masters in furniture design). How did the Amish do it? I'll tell you...very modern. Yep thats right, they used machines! Big machines. Factory machines. Although we only saw one or two Amish men working I'm sure they had more staff, possibly not Amish. I was shocked...although they used machines, they did a lot of wood working by hand. Beautiful pine cabin style furniture which was sold and shipped to various stores in the States. Again, no convos with the Amish here.
As we were leaving a family pulled up on a horse drawn wagon. I stopped and stared. I caught myself in embarrassment, but kept on checking them out like a girl does at a High School prom. The wagon had huge rubber tires, not wooden or metal as one would expect. The ladies were lovely, in their traditional solid grey, navy, and brown dresses with their delicate white bonnets. The little girl caught my eye. She was staring at me as well. First I wondered what she thought of us. Then I wondered, what does the world look like from her perspective? How do they deal with life? What are her biggest dilemmas? What are her dreams? We exchanged smiles. Again, they didn't seam interested in introductions. We headed to our big black truck and drove away. I kept thinking that was odd. I wish we had a chance to talk. Now of course I have to visit again someday.
About a month later, Joe and I were on a date, parked watching the sunset over the ocean. I told him I was thinking of starting a small business and I had visions of bonnets, quilts, aprons, simple garments... and I really liked the name... Modern Amish.
So there you have it. Sorry, I'm a wordy one. Hope you don't mind and come back to visit.