Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Kelly Irvin back to the blog. I always love it when Kelly visits because she gives us a peek into the Amish life. Today is no different as she introduces us to an Amish game the characters in her book Beneath the Summer Sun play. Welcome back, Kelly.
Fun and games the Amish way
By Kelly Irvin
One of the things I love about the Amish is their emphasis on family life. They spend time together, enjoying each other’s company. With no TV, no computers, and no cell phones, how different long summer evenings must be. For Beneath the Summer Sun, I wrote scenes in which I imagined how a widow and her seven young children would spend their evenings. A scene resulted in which they play a board game called “Life on the Farm,” with Mennonite book salesman Nathan Walker. I researched on-line how to play the game.
According to the “Life on the Farm” website, this is how you play the game: “You start with $10,000 and no cattle. During the game, when you land on a ‘Cattle Auction’ square, you may buy as many cows as you wish at $500 each. If you don’t have enough money to pay a bill, you must sell your cattle back to the bank at $300 each until that bill is paid. Each time you pass the barn you collect a ‘Milk-check’ that is determined by how many cows you own—of course, more cattle means your milk-check is bigger—but so are your expenses! Market values vary for each player and are determined by a roll of the dice! Experience how machinery repairs, feed costs, insurance, taxes, and real family farm mishaps (like a cow accidentally being shot by a hunter) make their effects felt on each player, as they do on real American family farms! Be the first player to build your herd from zero to 60 cows, plus get back the money you started farming with and you can ‘Retire’ to win the game!”
It’s obvious why the Amish would like a game that involves farming! Jennie’s children love it and they love playing with Nathan. It’s been four years since their father died in a farming accident, so they look forward to attention from a kind, gentle man like Nathan.
It’s all part of the fun of Amish family life, which includes playing checkers, chess, and other board games, as well as the card game Dutch Blitz, “A Vonderful Goot Game,” according to the package. I enjoyed writing about it and I hope readers enjoy the story.
To learn more about “Life on the Farm,” board game, go to the makers’ website at http://www.werfungames.com/how-to-play.htm.
Beneath the Summer Sun
By Kelly Irvin
Jennie Troyer knows it’s time to remarry. Can she overcome a painful secret and open her heart to love?
It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward.
Mennonite book salesman Nathan Walker stops by Jennie’s farm whenever he’s in the area. Despite years of conversation and dinners together, she never seems to relax around him. He knows he should move on, but something about her keeps drawing him back.
Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return?
In this second book in the Every Amish Season series, three hearts try to discern God’s plan for the future—and find peace beneath the summer sun.
Excerpt from Beneath the Summer Sun:
Jennie stopped breathing. Her lungs protested. She didn’t want to move, not even to let them expand and contract. Silly snake facts spouted by her son Micah when he wanted to make her shiver presented themselves. Snakes can’t sweat so they avoid the afternoon sun. They take naps during the day and come out when it’s cooler and dark. This one would likely stretch at least four feet long, not including its rattle. Its skin glowed brown and golden with a darker stripe down the back.
Jennie’s mouth went dry. Her stomach chose that moment to heave. The hot dog did not want to stay down. Purple spots dotted her vision.
“Cottonmouth?” Nathan whispered. He stood motionless at her side. “Poisonous?”
“Rattler.” She tried to speak without moving her mouth. “Rare here, but you see them. Obviously.”
“Don’t move.” His voice barely audible, he took one step, stopped. “I’ll grab Francis and we can hightail it out of here.”
“Nee. You’ll startle him and he’ll holler.” Her fear of snakes might be big, but her fear of one of her children being hurt was greater. She searched the ground. Not a single rock big enough to dispatch the viper. “Don’t. Move.”
Leo could help. If anyone could help it would be Leo. He’d know what to do.
He was a man who never flinched. He’d been through the worst. Since that terrible day, he’d taken everything in silent stride.
She turned slowly, carefully, tiptoeing at first, ridiculous as it must look, and then ran.
Her sneakers sank into the rich, dark soil, impeding her progress. The scent of sweat and grass and dirt assailed her nose. She needed to run, faster, faster. Gott, help me. I know we’re not on the best of terms, but please, Gott, help me.
Leo had the reins in his hands when she reached the fence. She slammed to a halt. “Help. Snake. Rattler. Francis.”
He dropped the reins and reached behind the buggy seat. A long, lean, deadly looking brown rifle emerged.
Rifle in hand, he hurtled over the fence like a boy half his age. His straw hat plummeted to the ground. His legs were much longer than Jennie’s, but fear and adrenaline that tasted like metal on her tongue propelled her in his wake.
Leo slowed, slowed some more, halted, then stepped forward with a balance and ease that spoke of a much smaller man. He raised the rifle, took aim, and sent the snake on its way in an explosion of sound that made Jennie jump even though she knew it was coming. The acrid smell of gunpowder filled the air and burned her nose.
With a blood-curdling scream Francis rolled over, hopped to his feet, and ran straight into Jennie’s open arms. She scooped him up and hugged him hard, despite the urge to take him to the woodshed for a “talk.”
“Danki.” She spoke the single trembling word to Leo but let her gaze encompass Nathan. He was willing to do more. He simply hadn’t known what to do. “Francis thanks you too.”
A spark of something indefinable in his amber eyes, Leo nodded and set off across the field, his rifle slung over his shoulder, his gait loose and easy. Taking it in silent stride, just the way she knew he would.
Want to read more? Beneath the Summer Sun is available at:
About the Author:
Two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist Kelly Irvin is the author of the critically acclaimed Amish of Bee County, Bliss Creek Amish, and New Hope Amish series. Her newest release is Beneath the Summer Sun, the second novel in the four-book series Every Amish Season from Zondervan Publishing. Her work has also appeared in four Amish anthologies, An Amish Market, An Amish Summer, An Amish Christmas Love, and An Amish Christmas. Kelly is a retired newspaper reporter and public relations professional who lives with her husband in Texas. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two ornery cats.
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