Signs of Lancaster County
My book developer, Jill Swenson, alerted me to Tana Reiff’s upcoming book, Signs of Lancaster County: A Photographic Tour of Amish Country (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.) a few months ago. I listened to Jill’s whisper and contacted Tana with an offer to review her book. Tana in turn listened to my whisper and graciously arranged for a review copy.
When my copy of the book arrived, I intended to sit down and just leaf through a few pages. I ended up not leaving the kitchen counter stool until I finished looking at all 112 pages with 240 beautiful color photographs interlaced with insightful text.
Tana expertly captures the essence of the Amish lifestyle through her photographs. The unique signs that she photographed loudly proclaim the dedication of these stewards to the land they love and cultivate. The photos are set against a bucolic backdrop of nature’s beauty that is unmatched. Whether painted on the face of a red brick building or on the broad side of a faded, white-washed barn on an isolated farm, a whisper of a simple lifestyle, that is richer than the soil that is tilled, echoes in each image.
My favorite pictures in this clever photographic tour are the rustic, handwritten signs and scenes of the roadside produce and vegetable stands. As a resident of Lancaster County since 1977, I know what “lopes” are and that there is no crust in a whoopie pie. The intense sweetness of a shoo-fly pie just might attract insects and the homemade root-beer will coat your tongue with a rich flavor that will keep your tastebuds popping long after the liquid has disappeared. Whenever I drive into the countryside, I always carry a small pile of change and single dollar bills in my car cup holder to drop into the rusty coffee cans or wooden payment boxes as shown in the Refreshments section of the book.
The Amish work hard. But that doesn’t mean that they are without a sense of humor. Ms. Reiff’s book captures their wit with a sign that says,”Age is not important unless you’re cheese.”
And the Amish must be chuckling at the “English” (those of us who are not members of the sect) as we adopt trendy practices as if we have discovered something new. But signs announcing “free-range eggs” and “GMO free” are meant to cleverly draw in customers to habits that are as old as dirt.
The last page of the book shows a sign that says, “Thanks for Visiting Lancaster County- Drive Gently”. When I finished the book I wanted to jump in my car and motor into the beautiful country side in my own backyard to experience the photos that I just saw. I am lucky that I can do that. But if you can’t, I highly recommend that you check out Tana Reiff’s book, Signs of Lancaster County: A Photographic Tour of Amish Country.
Personalized signed copies are available at Tana’s website www.tanareiff.com. They are also for sale at various locations around Lancaster County. There will be a book signing at Kitchen Kettle in Intercourse, PA on June 27, 2015 and at Finial & Fern in Leola, PA on July 18, 2015.
For more details, check out the 6/21/15 featured article in the Books section of the Sunday Lancaster Newspaper . http://lancasteronline.com/book_reviews/signs-of-lancaster-county-tell-a-story-author-discovers/article_10959b40-16a9-11e5-9eb6-2b280e1dae59.html
Here are my 5 suggested instructions for reading Tana’s book for maximum pleasure:
- Turn down the volume of your own life’s clutter.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with a beverage of choice.
- Coast slowly through Tana’s photographic tour.
- Feel free to linger on a page or go back and look at one more than once
- Keep your ears open for a whisper.
I hope you enjoy Tana Reiff’s book as much as I did. It gave me a wonderful excuse to put the brakes on my hectic life and be reminded of the natural harmony of man and nature as it was meant to be.
Thank you for your insightful review of my book, Kim. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. As much and as closely as I’ve looked at the photographs, I still find interesting details – and whispers – every time I page through the book. It was a fun project and I learned so much. It’s gratifying to hear about others enjoying the fruits of my labor of love.
It was a pleasure to be a small part of your literary journey. It is a beautiful book.