Friday, July 23, 2010

Cycling early morning when leaving New Philadelphia put me behind an Amish horse and buggy. The pace registered about 8mph down the street. I can't believe this was how we traveled only a hundred years ago. The semi trucks carrying logs and produce were forced to move just as slow as the horse until an opening in traffic occurred. The slower pace was the point of my journey as well,- it situated me in a relationship to the landscape that forces me to take time. While cycling through the countryside, my focus is more in the present tense,- and the process of travel and seeing. Perhaps this is a luxury in the modern world but I think I might begin to understand why the Amish are so persistant in clinging to their 'plain' ways. Not simple ways, however, because we saw some very large scale farms and perfectly constructed white houses albeit without power lines running to the dwellings. Though this is an old order community, it speaks of some of the attributes common and neccessary for survival in 19th century America. Getting off the bigger country roads forced us into more of the Amish farm country. It is amazing to see the amount of work that can get done with this horse based economy. It was very enlightening to see this in the present tense as I usually thought of these 'historic' modalities as primitive, simplistic and naive. Far from it. The eloquence and profundity of Lincoln's ideas and prose came from this sort of environment. Seeing the Amish first hand made me consider the physical landscape with different eyes. Following Lincoln's innaugural train route via bicycle has it's own limitations as well. The urge to just get in car and drive somewhere seems almost reflexive. The modern world with all of it's choices and options has simply prevented us from traveling to Pittsburgh via bicycle,- as the route over the Ohio River is just not passible by bicycles or horse drawn vehicles.

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