A tradition of work

Other photobloggers are to be able to amass queues of great images. I’m not sure why, but if I’m out with the camera, it seems to be my habit to arrive home with a single image in mind to process and post. I ignore nearly everything else taken. Because I am without a queue, and because I struck out over the weekend, I have gone back to take a look at the images I took last week. I decided that I liked this one very much. I had stepped into Wayne’s barn to photograph a wheel rake. As I prepared to leave, I noticed this single wheel. I forgot to ask about its significance but I do not doubt its authenticity. Something about the paint suggests that it hasn’t been fixed to an axle for some time, but I could be wrong. We were in Amish country this past weekend and I had the camera along. I was thinking about this image and was keen to capture a view of one of the smaller roads leading to an Amish farm for these accommodate lots of buggy traffic. In the heat of a summer day the asphalt can soften and record the passage of buggies and steel rims can do something similar at almost any time of year. A dry road can reveal the acute, gently criss-crossed, tangle of marks but, alas, the roads were wet and hid them from view. I respect and admire Amish tradition. I have written elsewhere that … my assumption had always been that farming (or traveling the roads, in this case) without modern convenience was somehow a way of life which brought the Amish closer to God and was more strongly adherent to Scriptural practice. I was wrong. Two key concepts for understanding Amish practices are their rejection of pride and arrogance and the value they place on humility and composure which may also be understood as a reluctance to assert oneself. The willingness of the Amish to submit to the Will of Jesus, expressed through group norms, is at odds with the sense of individualism which is so central to American culture. This anti-individualist position is the motive for rejecting labor-saving technologies that might make one less dependent on community. So there you have it, motivation which is reasonable. Laudable. I do not know the history of this wheel. Because I know it is genuine, however, I know that it worked hard and I know that the folks who worked it hard, worked hard themselves. And, they did so at a time when hard work was a way of life, for everyone. It had to be. The times were different, but the people were surely the same. They worked to ensure shelter, warmth, and food for their families. So do we. But, in ways which are so very, very, different.


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