What is it like to grow up in an Old Order Amish community? Can the allure of tradition and a sense of belonging to such a community override the longing for freedom and the opportunity to experience the great wide world? This unrelenting push and pull between secure Amish community life and the tempting siren song of the outside world have shaped ex-Amish author and blogger, Ira Wagler. In his best-selling memoir, Growing Up Amish, the author offers his readers an honest, bittersweet, and moving account of how he left the Amish, only to return and eventually leave for good.
As one of the guest speakers at the Plain People Conference, Ira Wagler gave a heartfelt talk as well as read excerpts from his memoir about coming of age and his first love, Sarah Miller. But why don’t you listen for yourself?
After a dozen trips or more to Deutschland, I can officially say I consider Germany to be my home away from home. Each visit reunites me with old friends, and if I’m lucky, I get the opportunity to make new ones. I’ve grown fond of the land and the people. Upon reflection, I think I have quite probably seen more of Germany and its cities than most of its citizens. I lost track after the thirtieth town. Or was it the fortieth. … Hard to say. After this many trips, it’s all a blur of schnitzel and white asparagus. Read more »
Writers are a special breed. Constantly shifting through their perception of the environment with detailed attention, they store and analyze any piece of information on the endless shelves of their flourishing mind. Everything is of value. The way the grumpy barista was holding the pen as he scribbled their name on their cup of take-away coffee; the momentary silence before a daughter answered her mother, assuring her that she would be home in time for dinner; the way he brushed her cheeks ever so slightly, tracing the outline of her cheekbone with the tip of his thumb as they sat on the park bench next to each other, their eyes drinking in each others’ presence.
Writers are like magicians. They turn to the world for inspiration to create a universe of their own, using a handful of words to later engage their readers. They feed the pages of a satirical play, a lost romance, or a spectacular crime. I’ve always found writers fascinating.
When I came to America as an exchange student in the spring of 2015, I was burning with curiosity but rather shy of expectations. Little did I know that the U.S. would be my literary haven. Read more »
This past fall, my travels and work obligations had me fly into Calgary. I took the opportunity to spend five additional days in spots I consider breathtakingly beautiful: Waterton and Glacier National Park. I crossed over the Canadian border and into Montana on a late afternoon in September and drove past herds of bison toward the village of St. Mary just as the last rays of the sun broke through the clouds and lit up the mountain ranges that rise so abruptly from the grassy plains.
Tommy’s parents wave from the porch as our minivan pulls up. His dad smiles, and that’s when I see he’s missing about half of his teeth.
Before retiring a few years back, Gerald had been a mechanic. During high school, he’d apprenticed at his uncle’s garage, then serviced army vehicles while stationed in Germany. When he finally returned home he kept fixing cars. Worked “from can to can’t,” worked Saturdays, feeding himself
into the maw of busted trucks in unairconditioned Alabama, feeding a wife and three kids. Eventually he’d own his own shop, Franklin Automotive. In addition to repairs, he had a line on “totals,” wrecks the insurance company didn’t consider worth fixing. Gerald considered otherwise. He’d buy two or three of the same model at salvage auction and Frankenstein them together. Technically he wasn’t allowed to sell them – “branded title” and all that – but he figured there was no harm in it as long as the customer knew. He loved to negotiate, and that man could sell an icebox to an Eskimo.
Cape Cod has been on my list of travel destinations for quite some time. What connects me to the Cape’s outermost beaches of Massachusetts are Henry David Thoreau’s walking activities between 1849 and 1857, which he published in his book Cape Cod. Another Cape Cod memory I cherish are the breathtaking paintings of the luminists Fitz Hugh Lane, Martin Johnson Heade, or John Frederick Kensett, some of whose works can be seen in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This March, I rented a small and cozy cottage in North Truro for almost a week, anticipating to finally substitute my mental and imaginary ruminations with actual walks along the beaches of the Cape. The second day, a snowstorm hit the coast so that in spite of the many layers of windproof clothing, I soon retreated to the warmth of the cottage, curled up in a comfy chair, and watched the snowflakes dance outside the windows.