I have a business opportunity for the Amish. (Talk about your untapped market!) What I’m suggesting is, as a way for us busy mothers to decompress, we spend some time experiencing the simpler life enjoyed by the Amish. It’ll be similar to going to a spa, but without the massages and soothing mineral baths. (I’m sure there’s some mud and rocky soil you can roll around in if you insist— but you’ll probably want to lose the white bonnet and apron if you are going to participate in that kind of behavior.)
We could call it Materspringa. The Amish have a tradition of sending their young people out into our world for a period of time, they call it Rumspringa. When they send their young folks out for Rumspringa, they could rent out their empty rooms to world-weary mothers who need a little down time and wouldn’t mind learning how to make a nice pie.
The logistics might be a little problematic, we’ll have to go old school to get the word out: flyers, newspapers, church bulletins, the busybodies down at The Farmer’s Market. But, where there’s a will there’s a way, Ladies! It’ll be worth the trouble, I promise.
Imagine, if you will, arriving at sunrise, being shown to your minimalist room replete with line-dried sheets and a handmade quilt. (Can’t you just smell the lemon oil Rebekkah uses to clean the old pine flooring?) You change into your shift, apron, and bonnet before joining the family downstairs.
One of the twins (Jakob? Aaron? You’ll be able to tell them apart before long) takes you outside where you join Hannah and Lise in collecting eggs from the henhouse. (Those were some busy hens!) Between the egg gathering and the smell of fresh corn cakes wafting from the main house you realize you’re hungry.
God is thanked. Breakfast is served; simple, yet delicious. There’s nothing better than a fresh fried egg and a warm corn cake slathered in hand-churned butter and dipped in homemade blackberry jam to satisfy the hunger that often follows digging around hen’s rumps for their never-to-be offspring.
You spend the rest of the day learning some new skills: like making Shoo-Fly Pie, the secret to a good bread dough, and the art of canning peaches. You can then sit on the porch in a rocker, join the sewing circle if you like, or just relax with some fresh-squeezed lemonade while the children take turns reading aloud from The Holy Bible.
A slice of the scrumptious Shoo-Fly pie follows the family dinner of rosemary chicken and potatoes with garden fresh peas. (Shucked on the porch while you and Rebekkah were getting to know each other— you discover that you and she have more in common than you would have thought.) What a pleasant dinner it was! Of course there was the requisite scripture, read aloud by Gunter, Rebekkah’s content and hard-working husband. (Seriously. Content!) Most impressive, though, are the children. The manners! The respect! The attentiveness! The connection to their siblings and their parents! The answering of questions in full sentences!
After supper, Gunter regales everyone with a little more Bible reading (scripture overload is becoming a real possibility— power through it) and some more conversation (actual conversation— about actual people he knows— not about who the NY Mets may or may not acquire/rid themselves of in the off season) as the children use the last of the natural light, Hannah and Lise to braid each other’s hair (miraculously without pulling or fighting), Jakob and Aaron to do sums. (Jakob actually helps Aaron— neither a “dummy” or a “stupid head” crosses Jakob’s lips!)
At sunset it’s time for bed. You lie in the crisp sheets, listening to the children saying their prayers (they even pray for you, their “Englisher” guest), thinking about the hubbub of your own life. You say a little prayer yourself and make a promise that when you get home you’ll try and simplify.
You drift off thinking about how you can accomplish this. You’re certainly not up to building a henhouse and you don’t know the first thing about raising or breeding chickens, nor can you imagine dragging your children out of bed to gather eggs (surely there’s a local ordinance regarding roosters crowing), so the breakfast of fresh eggs probably won’t be happening. Homemade sourdough and Shoo-Fly pie? Definite possibilities.
More than likely there won’t be a groundswell of support for a sewing circle, but a little reading aloud before dinner wouldn’t kill anybody, For God’s sakes!— probably not The Bible, though— maybe something a little more accessible, like “Game of Thrones”. Yeah, you’re more historical fantasy people than Good Book folks.
The point of Materspringa isn’t that you should return with the notion that you can wholly incorporate Amish ways to your 21st Century lifestyle. Quite the contrary. Spending a few days unplugged, connecting with another culture and, more importantly, with yourself, is the objective of Materspringa.
And the free t-shirt. Basic black with a white bonnet on the front with just the word “Materspringa” in a simple block lettering on the sleeve. Simple and tasteful. Like the Amish.
I daresay that the success of Materspringa will, undoubtedly lead to Paterspringa. I don’t know about you, but I’d pay good money to see my husband (who is averse to lifting a finger) raise a barn. Plus, men are suckers for a free t-shirt.
photo credit: kannikscorner.com