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Sarah's Seasons: An Amish Diary and Conversation (Bur Oak Book) [Paperback]

Martha Moore Davis

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Book Description

31 Aug 2000 Bur Oak Book
"Have you ever kept a diary?" With that question author Martha Davis sets out on her journey into the quietly remarkable life of an Old Order Amish woman know to us as Sarah Fisher. Sarah not only kept a diary but welcomed Martha to read it and to view the world through her eyes. The even, peaceful tenor of Sarah's diary entries and the closeness to nature of her life and work will make readers question the pace and values of their own lives, and the degree of social interconnectedness in Sarah's world will offer a model for many of us outside it.
Sarah's brief daily notations, recorded on a calendar throughout 1976 and 1977, reveal an ongoing account of her seasonal routine. In many ways the straightforward simplicity of her writing is a reflection of her life near rural Kalona, Iowa, a life filled with what Martha Davis calls look-easy tasks undertaken without the conveniences of electricity, phones, or automobiles. For Sarah, diaries are a record. "A diary can settle a question, a disagreement," she tells Martha. "You look back and see what took place. That's history."
Through their conversations, Martha soon discovered she had more in common with Sarah than diary writing. Though Davis lived in the mainstream culture, an "English" person as the Amish say, like Sarah she grew up on a farm in rural Iowa during the 1950s and 1960s. Like Martha, Sarah had spent several years as a teacher.
In "Sarah's Seasons" Martha Davis shares their common experiences and common interests--gardening, quilting, and cooking. Alongside Sarah's diary, Martha presents their shared recipes and conversations as well as reflections on her own more modern existence. Because of her friendship with Sarah, the author found a new sense of belonging to and purpose in the mainstream world. In the end, Sarah's diary becomes for Martha a meditation on time and community.

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"A volume that chronicles the days of a family truly in touch with the human condition and the rhythms of nature. . . . A gem of a book."--"New Oxford Review

About the Author

Martha Davis is a high school English teacher who lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How does an Amish mother spend her days? 18 Mar 2001
By C. Miller - Published on
My curiosity about the Amish allowed me to really enjoy this book. The author mingles two years of actual diary entries written in the `70's by Amish friend, Sarah, with experiences in areas she shares with Sarah - gardening, quilting, cooking/ recipes, and writing. By the end of the book I felt I knew something about Amish community interaction, and the life of a wife and mother skilled in and married to the home arts.
The author relates getting to know Sarah and Amish life as somewhat spiritual and shares her introspections. I couldn't drum up any spirituality. My reaction was simply `How like us they are, and yet, how different.' If you're curious about the Amish wife and mother's day-to-day, the book will interest you.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soothing and Comfortable 11 Sep 2002
By Amish Lover - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. A good book is like a comfortable friend; this is one of those books. It takes us back to a time when 'mundane' tasks were considered both important and of value. This is such a soothing and gentle and genteel book. Sarah is hardworking and can master more in a day than anyone I know (I wish I could be more like her)....yet considers her own fragility -- she calls it 'feminine weakness' when she compares her abilities to that of her husband. In a short paragraph she speaks volumes about the loss of her mother. 500 people attended the wake/funeral service.....and yet, how the family is left 'in its sorrow.' Everyone is equal in Amish society; no one is viewed 'above' another -- so when the author mentions personal traits she views as superior, Sarah just looks at her, unimpressed. This to me is much more appealing than our competitive, fast-paced society. This is truly a delicious book, not full of fluff, but rather more the wisdom I wish our society still embraced.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An inside look at the daily life of an Old Order Amish Woman 12 Aug 2003
By Don - Published on
I think that many of us are facinated by the Amish and their way of life. Most of us will never have the chance to become close friends with an Amish woman and have the chance to observe her life close up. This book takes you into the day by day life of Sarah and lets you vicariously experience what it's like to live the "plain life". We see the various seasons as recorded in her diary over a 2 year period of time. Her developing friendship with the "English" author is touching and enlightening. This is a special book.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Portrayed Work! 8 Mar 2005
By A Customer - Published on
My co-worker loaned me this book. For I used to be a member of an Old Order Amish sect. What I found in the diary were true emotions and experiences that a woman faces living in an Old Order Amish sect. This is a beautifully portrayed work. I recommend it, as well as, "The Storekeeper's Daughter", by Wanda Brunstetter, and "My Amish Heritage", by Ruth Irene Garrett.

Sicily Yoder aka Teresa Phillips

Author of, "Leaving Lancaster County."
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sarah, Plain and Raw 17 Jan 2006
By M. Orr - Published on
For those unfamiliar with Amish diaries, Sarah's musings are far from the emotion filled journal entries one commonly sees in the English world. Sarah's record keeping consists of three to five lines of basic news, usually including the weather and family illnesses, scribbled on a feed calendar. Martha Davis doggedly tries to find and analyze greater substance and meaning behind the two years worth of day to day activities noted in this way by her Amish friend. I'm not sure she succeeded, as her conclusion mirrors her repeated observations that Sarah's life is slower and more anchored in daily task work. It was still rewarding to read the news from Sarah's community in Kalona, Iowa during the 1976-77 years, and no doubt it has changed minimally since then. Overall, it was an enjoyable book that felt like a warm blanket, and I can't help but recommend it.

For the curious, Sarah (Fisher) died some years back, and she'd probably be very surprised by how many people continue to enjoy this elaboration of her calendar.
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