So here it is! Belated but as promised. Far be it from me to end my Bi-Annual Epic Book Haul on such an enigmatic note and never explain myself.
Hold on to your dragons’ tails and buckle your Viking helmets, we’re officially in Renaissance faire season!
(cue BookmarkedOne distant screams of delight)
I have mentioned I
joined a gang play fiddle for a band of steel fighters at Renaissance festivals and whatnot. That we have heaps of fun, they bash each other into bloody pulp for patrons’ entertainment, we put Deadpool in the stocks, and I play whatever strikes my fancy. With Ye Olde Plague, I have not seen any of them in over a year.
Until two weekends ago.
Please be healthy. Please be safe. Please wash your paws. Please social distance because introverts and fire jugglers actually prefer you at a 6ft distance at the best of times. Please do all the things you know you should do. Imagine a sad kitten face and think about how much I have missed watching my friends mock kill each other. Now we may all go to Renaissance festivals in good health and peace.
(clears throat). Anyway.
It’s a Friday night. I get a message from my contact in the group that basically says
Hi. We be smashing each other’s heads in steel armor next two weekends. Any smidgen of a chance you can leave the Hobbit-hole?okay, the lieutenant doesn’t actually talk like this. Cut me some slack for creative license. I’m having fun here.
One existential crisis later…
YES. 😀 😀 😀I don’t ever use all caps. There. Now we’re even.
Once the details were straightened out–
I had two days to practice all the music I’d barely touched during my solo recital/why did I get picked as principal second for this concert/aah no time solid year. How does “Pirates of the Caribbean” go again? AAAH the full size violin really is a hair’s breadth bigger than the nice 7/8 I was using, they weren’t lying! Can I memorize “Hedwig’s Theme” in two days? Maybe! “The Godfather Theme?” No! Am I going to remember any of this once I get there and just play “The Wellerman,” “Morrison’s Jig,” and “Katyusha” a dozen times?
…yeah, pretty much. Someone dared me into “Rains of Castamere” for the stocks prisoner…I’m getting ahead of myself.
First weekend I’m out the door before anyone can think of (another) reason I shouldn’t go, shouting “Nefarious Round 2!”
And after a solid year, we’re on a one hour twenty minute drive into the Middle of Nowheres, and I can’t stop grinning.
No, seriously. I was grinning the whole ride there.
And there’s two things you should know. The first is about Renaissance festivals. In my humble and varied experience, you cannot go to one without either getting lost or being 109% certain you are lost when you aren’t, bumping along down a red clay road with chunks of gravel large enough to distress small vehicles and was that the turn, nope, that’s not the turn, and you’re biting your lip hoping nobody’s going to come from the opposite direction because you really don’t want to be in that ravine they call a ditch on either side and it’s not wide enough for two–and then there it is.
Palisades. Towers. Fluttering flags. Little turrets. The whooping and trilling shrieking of the dancers, the distant beating of drums, the smell of cheap cigarettes and woodsmoke and sweat and home.
At least, that’s how the good ones are. If you don’t have to trek a little, it’s not as much fun.
Yeah, I know I’m probably alone in this opinion.
The second thing you should know is about me. I live in the city now. Not a big city. But I’m no more than twenty minutes away from anything, and all the houses are tidy and neat and square and people that live there apparently measure their lawns to the centimeter instead of the yard and the only things you can see are the trees that line the street and the buildings that cast their shadows.
I hate this. Not with any particular violence. Just on record. The sort of hate you calmly express to the detested while asking if they take sugar in their cup of afternoon tea.
I grew up with an orchard of spindly apple trees and open blue skies and oak trees that seemed to keep the secrets of a thousand years inside a laugh.
Scurrying around town makes me feel like a beetle.
It isn’t like that on the road. On the road, you’re free. You can breathe. Your eyes can roam over hill after hill, find the hawks–the hawks that you can never see flying above you in those cramped little streets! And the green, oh, all the green.
It felt like a cat stretching out, getting on the road again. And I couldn’t stop grinning.
Of course, I still had to find the gang once I got there.
(Cue some forlorn wandering with violin case slung over my shoulder, asking for directions, and then following said directions to the only tent I hadn’t inspected).
What did I expect when I got there? It was hot. Almost everybody was resting between fights under the shade of the tent. Except one, facing vaguely in my direction.
I walked up, maybe a little hesitant, grinning behind my mask. Stopped.
He looked. Then he saw me. His eyes bugged out. And I kid you not, he screamed like a little girl.
Apparently the lieutenant hadn’t told the rest of the crew I was coming.
I burst out laughing.
The rest of the day is a little bit of a blur. I saw the queen (she was personally putting one of her guards in the stocks and confiscating his spear), was introduced to new members (Hi! I am so-and-so. He is so-and-such. Did you see our mascot carved out of a solid block of wood? We have a rubber chicken! Hear it roar!) got a few people to dance, watched fire-eaters from afar, played a tune I’d promised one of the fighters I’d learn and saw him clap his hands inside the gigantic metal gloves he was so excited.
And yes, watched them try to bash each other into a bloody pulp. Entertainment.
Oh, I have missed this. The part I hate is leaving to go home.
Now it was just a matter of waiting a week for the next one.
Only I should mention–the first faire was out in the woods (as all good Renaissance festivals should be). The second one…
…yeah, it’s in the courtyard of a real castle.