Iowa Writes

from Out of This World: A Woman's Life Among the Amish

A bright red bow and harness bells tied on the horse, Donna, Stu, and I set out in their cart to greet our neighbors and bring in the New Year. "Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh," we sang, a sleeping bag draped across our laps and tucked around our knees, with Emily's legs prancing, her hooves tapping the rhythm on the ice-covered gravel road. The horse loved the task. With Emily we didn't have to worry about a cold radiator. She had to be held back from a gallop, her mane flopping and fluttering in the wind. Mason jars full of preserves rattled on the cart floor, and brightly wrapped boxes of goose and duck eggs careened into one another as we rounded the corner and headed south toward the Amish General Store and the extended family who minded it.

"If we bring our neighbors gifts every year on New Year's Day," Donna said, "they'll think that's our custom." Tall and certain, Donna sat in the front seat of the two-seater cart. Part Native American, her black hair streaked with silvery gray and pulled back from her high, broad forehead and straight nose, she had the presence of one who knew how to invent ritual.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Mary Swander teaches at the University of Iowa at Ames. She is a widely published poet and essayist. Out of This World is new in paperback from the University of Iowa Press.

Out of this World site

University of Iowa Press

This page was first displayed
on May 14, 2008

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