Monday, November 26, 2007

Thank Heaven for the Electric Amish

The Electric Amish is a rock and roll band which does parodies of popular American songs in an Amish vein ("Barn to Be Wild," "No More Mennonite Guy," "Sweet Home Indiana"). Wikipedia says,
"Much of the humor in their songs requires at least a passing understanding of Amish and Mennonite culture and small-town Indiana to comprehend; thus, their popularity is quite regional."

Last Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I was thankful for another sort of Electric Amish. I started off on my usual return to Bloomington from Elkhart, but I had to take an alternate route because of the lake-effect snow. That's one of the hazards of living around the Great Lakes. On winter days, when dry, cold air passes over the Great Lakes, it draws up evaporated water, and then drops it in the form of snow. It's why places like Cleveland and Buffalo are so frequently snowbound. I normally drive on U.S. 20 and Interstate 80 to Joliet, then take I-55 down to Bloomington. But that night, there was lake-effect snow from South Bend westward, so I drove straight south through Nappanee and Etna Green, then southwest through Rochester and Logansport, and west on U.S. 24, to avoid the big snow.

That put me right in the middle of Amish country. And they were out that night, in their buggies. But while the Old Order Amish eschew automobiles and electricity, the Amish in Indiana have battery-powered lights along with the big triangular Slow-Moving Vehicle (SMV)signs on their buggies. So, in a sense, they were electric Amish, and those lights and signs prevented me from hitting them. Even in drizzle and light snow, I had no problem seeing them.

Extremely conservative Amish sects in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota have gone to court to for their "right" to drive their buggies on public highways without the SMV signs. To do so at night is a virtual death sentence for the Amish travelers and their horse, and serious injury to the driver who hits them. But the Indiana Amish--at least those around Nappanee--have the sense not only to have the SMV sign, but to use a little electricity to make their black buggies visible at night. Were it not for those lights and the signs, I almost certainly would have hit a buggy that Thanksgiving night. So I'm thankful for Indiana's electric Amish.

4 comments:

Julie said...

Good Grief!! Good post...and interesting link to Lake Effect snow. Sounds like almost as many words for snow as the eskimo's use...and I'm definitely going to look out for Electric Amish 'Barn to be Wild'....

We had 15 foot snowdrifts in Durham years ago and the snow ploughs were coming along taking the top off parked cars.

Steve, any quick advice on how to place these brief links in the text? I've missed this somewhere.

steve said...

Julie--Thank you. I remember being in Haverfordwest and seeing pictures of a big snow--I think the pictures were from the late 1940s. I suspect Durham has more possibilities for snow than Pembrokeshire, where palm trees grow along the coast.

When you're posting, you need to copy the address of your link (the http://... Highlight it by left-clicking your mouse across the address. Then right-click the mouse and scroll down to "copy" when the menu comes up. Left-click on it. Then go back to your "create post," and highlight the word(s) you wish to link. Then click on the hyperlink symbol in the bar between the title and the main text. It looks like two chain links with a green splotch under them. A hyperlink window should come up. Delete the "http://" (it's in the address you copied), right click your mouse in the blank, and then left-click "paste." You can also just copy out the address and put it in manually, but the above method, once you get the hang of it,is quickest.

Julie said...

Thanks ever so much, I'll copy that . It'll be very useful.

Believe there was a severe British winter post-war in 1946/7.

Durham is exposed and the villages we were in were rising up to the moors. So cold the oil in the tanks froze and they had to thaw the CH feed pipes out with blowtorches.

I've picked plant coral off beaches on the gulf stream coast in Scotland.

Julie said...

That link trick is ace; thanks!