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If death is its largest industry, reproduction runs a close
second. It is said, with only a hint of exaggeration, that Mennonites don’t
have sex standing up because they’re afraid people might think they’re dancing.
Judging from the proliferation of children, they have no time for dancing and
have seldom seen late night TV. Outside of Utah there may not be another
first-world locale where families are grown as bountifully as they are here. To
be married and have no children is a perversion of epic proportions, salved by
a collective pity that one or both nonparents must be deficient in the
God-given bits needed to reproduce, bits still considered a mystery judging by
the legions of children trailing swollen and expectant mothers through town,
paraded behind like ducklings and metered out in increments of roughly nine
months and a day, each a few inches shorter than the one ahead and all scrubbed
to a translucent glow reminiscent of new skin left behind after a bad sunburn
Perhaps it is the culture of death that gives rise to all the children. I don’t intend to stick around to find out. If death came suddenly for my brother-in-law, Wally Siemens, his funeral came just as suddenly and just like that, I’ll be back in Whistler, a town not really much like Winkler at all now that I think about it.