Across Continents

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Amongst the Mennonites

It was the bonnets and long dresses that’d caught my eye as I’d wandered into the centre of Palmer. A small town about forty or so miles north of Anchorage. Two young women passing me on their bicycles. A brief exchange of pleasantries. Part, I thought, of some form of orthodox religious community. But a little surprised, that sort of thing being something I’d associated with New England rather than Alaska. Not quite sure why. Certainly no earthly reason. After all, if wanted to pursue your beliefs unhindered by others, a small community in the remote far north would seem to make a lot of sense.

Unsure as to which sect the women might belong to, I’d enquired in a nearby deli. Mennonites thought the conventionally attired woman serving. She’d a family of them as neighbours. Twelve children. Look out for all the churches, she suggested. But where was I from, she asked. I explained. She was leaving for London shortly, off to read Medicine. Would she return to Alaska to practice? Probably not.

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