Thursday, September 30, 2010

300 Horses

This morning I made two batches of Calamondin Marmalade to donate to the Old Miakka Schoolhouse annual fundraiser event, the Hootenanny. I use the pureed and strained  Calamondin seeds for pectin, but it still necessitates a  great deal of hovering and stirring, hovering and stirring...truly this is helicopter marmalading at it's finest! So there is plenty of time to mentalize...!


My sister tells me her oldest daughter is getting married this fall. Lucy is a very bubbly and outgoing young woman with many cousins aunts and uncles, and has made many friends far and near. They are going to invite about 300 guests. I was relating the details to Fred, and he doesn't have the same Old Order Mennonite background as I do, which is  also not only the background for my sister's life but the foreground of her present day life. Among the 300 guests are the approx. 100 people who have working roles to play such as "hostlers", "tablewaiters" and "cooks".


Hostlers are young unmarried teenagers who play the role of parking valet. They assume responsibility  for the horse and buggies upon arrival of the guests. That means using white chalk to mark the horse harness and the vehicle with numbers that match the piece of numbered paper handed to the guest,  parking the buggies and carriages in neat rows in a designated field, unhitching the horse,  taking the horse to the designated place in the barns, feeding them meals, separating unruly horses if the need arises, and then the reverse order when guests  give them their number to leave for home. In the evening these young men also fulfill the custom of throwing the groom over a fence to symbolize that he has crossed over from the life of a  unmarried man to that of a householder and  married man.


Tablewaiters are young unmarried women whose tasks are associated with the preparations for both the noon and evening meals, doing all the work in getting the food that was prepared ahead of time ready to serve, setting and  waiting on tables, and helping with the clean up until the last dish towel is hung up to dry. One of the things they do in the evening after all the work is done is to stand the bride on her head, in a bedroom with closed doors, while holding her skirt tightly around her legs to shake out all residual youthful foolishness so she will be able to fulfill her role and duty as a young wife and houeskeeper. Frequently, they also catch the bridesmaids to give them a preview of coming attractions!


The role of cooks is very important, and is usally assigned to mature couples, i.e.  neighbors or good friends in the community, with one woman designated as head cook. She comes over the day ahead for a thorough briefing on all the intricate details.  Imagine preparing mashed potatoes, meat, vegetable, noodles, gravy for 300 guests! And that's the noon meal. Talk about teamwork. It's not an uncommon sight to see the husbands take off their suitcoats, roll up their white  shirt sleeves, and get to work mashing potatoes by hand. I mean, you do have to keep them out of mischief one way or another!  The evening meal could have up to 200 guests.


Getting back to relating some of these details to must be a guy thing but it never occurred to me to think about what to do with the fallout (literally) of horse manure from 300 horses! There won't be 300 horses, of course...maybe in the vicinity of 100-150. But still....enough to fertilize a garden upon collection!


Thinking about the "outsider's" viewpoint versus the "growing up that way" viewpoint brought back memories of the day a good friend and I were on a fabric shop hop, and driving through picturesque  Lancaster Co. We saw a field of neatly lined up Amish carriages, which to me indicated a wedding or a funeral. Barbara asked about that "carriage junkyard". She though it was the place in the community to take your old worn out carriages. While I don't know what is actually done with  old worn out buggies and carriages, I do know there is no communal carriage junkyard. I clearly remember that the very thought of it struck me as being incredibly hilarious!


I forgot to do my Hump Day Mini Feature on Wed this week. Maybe this will pass as a substitute! Hope you were entertained for a little while!



Valerie said...

Carriage junkyard is cracking me up too.

AkasaWolfSong said...

I loved that glimpse into your Mennonite way of living Sarah...
I've long held a fascination for these if from some previous lifetime I had been one?

Carriage junkyard is a hoot!

I was thoroughly entertained! :)

Blessings and Peace!

Sarah said...

AkasaWolfSong: Since leaving the Order nearly 24 years ago I have discovered that many people have a fascination for the type of lifestyle they assume the Mennonites have...

Personally, I think it speaks to an inner longing for a simple, beautiful and uncomplicated life, or their deepest Self or "Home".

But the micro and macro are not so asimilar as many would like to believe.

Blessings and peace to you as well!