Our new house lies in the heart of Amish country. Our Wal-Mart parking lot has a long barn where they park their horses and buggies. On occasion I feel that I am the only woman in the store who is not wearing a long black dress with a bonnet, which suddenly makes me feel like a real heathen. I smile as they push their cart with their darling bonnet-covered daughter by me. Sometimes they smile back, but sometimes I feel only their reproach, or perhaps that's just what I perceive. They have never stopped to make small talk, the way strangers sometimes will, but I'm not sure if that's because they look on me with disdain, or because they are tired of being misunderstood, misrepresented, and treated like a tourist attraction.
I speak well of the Amish to my children and tell them that these people choose to live simply because they don't want to be dependent on others, and they don't want to be distracted by the things of this world. They want to live a quiet life and work with their hands, and win the respect of outsiders, and for the most part I think they do.