Summer!! That’s usually how I approach this season. I use a lot of exclamation points. I love warm summer nights watching the lightning bugs fly around and I always spend way to long trying to catch them. Our days are long, leisurely, and filled with good food. (My favorite topic) Summer produce in Amish Country, is SPOT ON. Nothing beats homegrown fruits and vegetables. Nothing. Is there anything worse than a hard tomato grown who knows where? They give me shivers. I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by produce stands because I hate to garden. My garden plot sits empty and I’ve heard that it was once a fantastic producer of everything I buy. Haha. I send out major props to those who have a green thumb.
Also during the summer, I often find myself at local greenhouses just to look at all the prettiness. So many flowers to choose from! Fresh flowers, fruit, and vegetables are a winning combination. Right? Do you have access to homegrown goodies or do you garden? Here are some pics of what our area has to offer you if you decide to hop this way for some. Enjoy your summer, folks!
Look at this pile of watermelons! We usually go through tons of these bad boys.
Homegrown strawberries are simply the best. Hands down.
My favorite thing to eat: tomatoes. YUM!
Zucchini bread? Or zoodles?
A bowl full of cantaloupe? I’ll take two.
The Amish really know how to grow their hanging baskets. Beautiful!
As a writer, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to get my facts right when it comes to the Amish culture. On my last trip to Wisconsin Amish country, I paid special attention to some of the differences among Amish communities. In one community the women tie their kapp strings, in another, they leave their kapp strings hanging. In the more conservative communities, the dresses are black or darker colors with dark purples, blues, and maroons preferred. In other communities you see pink, yellow, royal blue, and mint green dresses. I met one young mother who had dressed her baby boy in a beautiful peach-colored shirt with black trousers and suspenders.
The use of pins has always fascinated me. Many Amish women close the fronts of their dresses with straight pins instead of buttons. Buttons are seen as proud and too fancy in some communities, although many of the men’s shirts have simple buttons. I always wonder how often a housewife accidentally scratches herself on one of the pins in her dress. This trip, I noticed an Amish woman in Bonduel who had snaps down the front of her dress instead of straight pins. Another woman at the fabric store used safety pins. That seems much safer—especially for someone like me who would more likely than not scratch herself every day.
All Amish communities have a set of rules—the Ordnung—that they live by, but the rules vary from district to district, and each Amish community does things slightly different from the next. For example, some communities allow their members to own chainsaws. Others only allow members to borrow chainsaws. Others forbid the use of chainsaws altogether.
Sometimes people in a community won’t like the way the bishop runs things or the way the Ordnung is interpreted, and they move to another area. Some are searching for a more lenient bishop. Others are seeking a stricter set of rules.
For a writer, this diversity is both good and bad. With all the different rules, I’m never sure if I’ve gotten something exactly right, but I’m comforted that I can always make up my own community with its own set of rules and probably be okay.
Jennifer Beckstrand is the award-winning author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill Amish romance series. After growing up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, she went slightly crazy and got a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of her six children needed help with homework. After her fourth daughter was born, she started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, she finished her first manuscript in just under fourteen years. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and three adorable grandsons, whom she spoils rotten.
Summer is my favorite season. I love summer vacations, summer flowers, and summer projects. It seems like every summer I start out with great expectations of everywhere I will go, everything that I will do, and everything that I will write. In general, I would say I have a seventy-five percent success rate of doing all those things. But this summer… this summer was a monster. My To Do List was more epic and daunting than any in recent memory. I traveled a lot and had a lot of fun, but I worked harder than I ever have in my life. That’s not a complaint. As an author to have work is a blessing, a huge one. However as this summer comes to a close, I feel a little bit like I stumbled through the eye of tornado and my goals for what I was going to do are strewn on the ground around me. Some of those goals were reached and some were not.
Typically, I feel melancholy when summer comes to end but not this year. This year, I’m happy for the change of season, and instead of bemoaning the coming winter, which to be honest is pretty awful in NE Ohio, I am looking forward to everything fall has to offer.
And because I’ve never met a list I didn’t like I decided to write down everything that I’m looking forward to this fall.
*Writing the last novel I’m contracted for 2015… that was #5 of 5!!
*Research trips to Holmes County
*The Buckeye Book Fair on November 7th in Wooster, Ohio
*A weekend on the beach with friends
After the tornado summer, it’s shaping up to be quite an awesome autumn. What are you looking forward to most this fall?
Amanda Flower, a three time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland. She also writes as National Bestselling Author Isabella Alan. www.amandaflower.com