4:00 AM: The sun remains hidden below the trees as Amos’ battery powered alarm clock shrills in his ear. He groggily turns his head to face his bedside table as the wooden clock sings. The 19 year old reaches his hand and feels around for the small rectangular box of matches he keeps next to his kerosene lamp. As he flicks the match against the hard grain, a warm flicker of light fills the room with an orange glow. It’s time to start a new day.
After he lifts himself off of his bed and out from under his patchwork quilt, hand stitched by his mother, of course, Amos removes his plain white nightgown and changes into his work outfit which consists of broad fall trousers, a short sleeve patterned shirt, two suspenders, and a straw hat. The smell of his mother cooking scrambled eggs with bacon, green pepper, and onions dances in his nose as he prepares to go downstairs and eat before heading off to work. Before making his way downstairs, Amos checks his face in the mirror, noticing a subtle five o’clock shadow beginning to form on his chin. Since he’s not married, he must keep his face clean in order to let the ladies know he’s available. With a few quick strokes of a razor and a rinse with cold water from the tap, Amos puts on his work boots and heads downstairs.
4:30 AM: After breakfast, Amos kisses his mother goodbye and heads out the door. His early morning duty requires him to milk the cows at his neighbors’ farm. Amos makes his way to the stable where he keeps Midnight, his trusty family horse and the horsepower behind his buggy. Although he doesn’t get paid for his labor in cash, the gig isn’t too bad. Waking up early allows him to find peace in the cool, quiet darkness of the early morning. Plus, in exchange for his labor, Amos gets to take fresh milk home to his family for free each day.
6:45 AM: Slowly and sorely, Amos makes his way back to his house with a handful of milk jugs after spending the early morning with the cows. At this hour, the sun is beginning to rise above the tree line, illuminating the vibrant green earth beneath his feet. He briefly closes his eyes, taking in the moment and reflecting on how much he has to be thankful for. After dropping off the milk jugs into the ice box, he meets his uncles, father, and brothers on the family farm where, during the fall season, they grow and harvest corn. As Amos’s uncle steers the horse pulling the corn binder, the other men tie cut corn stalks into bundles and toss them into the wagon.
1 PM: After a long mornings’ work, Amos’s stomach begins to rumble. His morning duties are almost complete. Before heading back to his house, which sits quaintly on the top of a grassy hill, he makes a detour to collect eggs from his family chicken coop. As he walks towards the wooden structure sitting next to the side door of his family home, he recalls a conversation he had with his friend Maureen.
Maureen was rebellious. She had volunteered to take part in a television show where English folks documented her journey leaving her Amish town to pursue a life in the English world. This was an extremely risky move for a person of the Amish faith. The English had so often used forms of media, videos, and photos to villainize the Amish lifestyle, so much so that Amish communities officially banned photos from being taken of their people. It made her family upset that she was leaving everything behind to start a new life. However, Amos was confident that her safety was in God’s hands. Amos had conversed with Maureen after she had returned from visiting an English supermarket for the first time. Maureen’s friend, Daniel, who had left the Amish community a few years prior, drove an Amish taxi for members of the faith who were not allowed to drive- that being all of them. Daniel had driven Maureen and her friend to the supermarket on a sunny day last spring to pick up groceries for the house. In doing so, Maureen stumbled across a carton of eggs that cost $5.99. $5.99?!, Amos thought. Eggs were only $1.50 in their town and in Amos’ case, where he could stock up on readily available eggs from the chicken coop in his yard, they were free. Those English people are so lazy, he thought with a snicker.
After returning home, eggs in hand, Amos eats a quick lunch prepared by his loving mother. She had heated up leftover butter noodles, dutch cabbage rolls, and bologna from the night before in their wood burning stove. After a filling lunch, Amos can’t help but notice the heaviness in his eyes as he makes his way to the recliner in his living room. As his eyes begin to close, he feels himself surrender to sleep and decides that he deserves a moment of rest after his long morning of work.
3 PM: Amos is awoken to the sound of his mother talking in a hushed voice to a neighbor who has stopped by the house to drop off a dish that was used to deliver Shoofly pie when their daughter was sick. “I just can’t believe she would run off like that,” said the neighbor, a woman in her early 40s with blonde curly hair braided and tied into a bonnet, “Maureen seemed like such a nice girl. I bet it was that Daniel who convinced her to leave. He’s always been trouble. And I can bet you that she’s gone to be with him, too. That poor family.” Amos’ mother nodded her head in disapproval. “Well, I better get back to it, the laundry won’t hang itself”. As the neighbor leaves, Amos lifts himself out of the soft recliner and walks outside to the stable. He saddles up Midnight and attaches him to the buggy, making sure to give him a bite of a carrot as a treat before heading off to the farmers stand in town where he’ll help his father sell fresh corn to locals and tourists alike.
6 PM: Amos returns to his family home with his father and a bit of extra cash from a group of tourists fascinated by the fact that his corn was not only yellow, but red, blue, and black too. On the way home, Amos and his father stopped by a neighbor’s house to drop off a bit of money to help pay for their sick daughters’ medical bills. After eating a dinner of pork, potatoes, vegetables, salad, and bread, Amos helps the family with a few extra evening chores before heading to bed.
8:30: Most of Amos’ family has made their way to bed, but after his two hour nap this afternoon, he isn’t particularly tired yet. He sneaks downstairs to his family living room and plucks the Bible off of the bookshelf sitting next to the ottoman. Amos feels around the dark room until his fingers catch a rectangular cardboard box filled with matches. The room lights up as he presses the match onto the rough surface of the striker. He guides the small, wooden match to the kerosene lamp on the table beside him. Surrounded by the glow of the lamp, Amos reads the Bible until his eyes once again feel heavy. He heads up to bed with a calm, peaceful feeling, ready to take on the next day ahead.