Women in Motion

As I have mentioned quite often, I live in central Pennsylvania, a place that is primarily rural, with lots of beauty to be seen and photographed. A subject I don't photograph often is people. I more often focus my camera on the wonderful outdoor spaces I have access to.

But on this day, I took a photo of some people that I wanted to share with you. My husband and I had breakfast out at Eat 'n Park, snagged a chilly and lovely slice of strawberry pie, and put it in the cooler for later. We were headed to the woods for some hiking, as it was an absolutely gorgeous May day.

We stopped to gas up my car near Lamar, and I was sitting in the car waiting, when two women went by on scooters. Almost by instinct, my hands grabbed quickly for the camera. I got off a few shots and put my camera down.

A few minutes later, a third woman went by. In looking closer, I saw a little fuzzy head sticking out of the basket of the scooter. The woman had her baby with her, and they were locomoting at top speed along the road! I wasn't quick enough, and I missed the shot. Dang it!

I thought about it all day; felt bad, in fact, that I hadn't been able to show you the woman and her baby out for a ride on a fine spring day. But then I got home later in the day, downloaded my pictures, and discovered that not just ONE of the ladies in the shot I did get had a baby in the front basket, but BOTH of them do! (You can see a tiny face by the flash of pink under the right arm of the woman in green, on the left.)

The women are Plain People, members of either a local Amish or Mennonite order. We often see such people in some of the big, wide, green, farming valleys of central Pennsylvania. More often, they travel in buggies, at least when in groups and going far. But the scooter, operated with one foot on the scooter and one foot pushing on the ground, is a fine device for short-distance travel, especially on a beautiful day. (And yes, the lack of helmets and child safety restraints is duly noted.)

The Plain People dress and behave differently than the modern world. Most of their groups have an Anabaptist background (that is, they do not believe in infant baptism). They do not drive motor vehicles. They do not have electricity in their homes. They live a simple way of life that might be pretty much the same today as it was a hundred years ago.

Interestingly enough, in exploring my own family history, I have discovered that some of the ancestors on my mother's side were part of an Anabaptist group who were persecuted because of their beliefs. They lived in Switzerland and then moved to Germany, but refused to fight in the wars because they were pacifists, and eventually they migrated to America in the 1700s.

You may have read about the Amish families' response to the terrible tragedy that happened at Nickel Mines in 2006, when a man tied up, and then shot and killed, a number of young Amish girls in the Nickel Mines schoolhouse. He then killed himself. The world watched in awe as the families of the girls forgave the man, and extended every kindness to his widow. (For those interested in learning more, I recommend the book Amish Grace, by Donald Kraybill, Steven Nolt, and David Weaver-Zercher.)

I wish this picture had as its background the beautiful rolling green hills of my beloved central Pennsylvania. But the women were passing by a parking lot when I saw them. So you get to see the contrast between their mode of locomotion and the modern way. 

This coming weekend is Mother's Day weekend in the U.S., a time when we celebrate mothers and womankind in general. I am sharing this image because it provides a positive depiction of two strong women, out living life with nothing stopping them.

Their shoulders look firm and strong; these are mothers who take their children with them and go flying down the road about their business (or pleasure) with gusto, and with their bonnet strings flapping in the breeze.

I am including two songs with this image. This one is the very first thought that popped into my brain the instant I saw them zipping down the road on their scooters: the Loco-motion (and yes, here's both the Little Eva version and the Kylie Minogue version). And to celebrate these women, and the strength of all women, I pick John Lennon's wonderful song, Woman.

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