Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Pennsic Experience



The previous piece of art and humor was put together by Michael.

Each year that I haven't been able to go to Pennsic, I wind up sad and missing it for the duration.

This year, I didn't miss half of it because they moved the timeframe up a week and I didn't realize it until Pennsic was half over.

A friend of mine, Crandall, drew my attention to himself, and others who have never had the opportunity to go.

So I have resolved to stop feeling sorry for myself and enjoy my wonderful memories of Pennsic, and write up some of my most favorite memories for those of you who haven't had the opportunity to go.

Steve (my ex-husband) and I joined SCA (the Society for Creative Anachronism) in 1992. We chose our Scadian names, Etienne le couteau des Roches, and Ariane la Fileuse, and got them approved. My name is from the French version of the name Ariadne, who was the daughter of King Minos, and saved her boyfriend, Theseus from being lost forever in the labrynth by giving him a ball of yarn to unreel behind him which would later show him the way out. 

Most people had bynames instead of surnames during my period. Bynames are ones that denote some characteristic of the person, such as smith, cooper, webber, etc. Smith, of course, is a blacksmith, coopers made barrels, webbers were weavers, and la Fileuse is French for "the spinner."

Since we joined in the fall of 1992, we didn't get the chance to go to Pennsic until the following year.

The weather that year was unbelievably wonderful! We had hot, but dry days, followed by chilly evenings. On Thursday night, it rained a bit sometime between 2 and 4 am. Just enough to keep down the dust on the dirt roads. It normally gets cold enough in the evening at Pennsic that you can see your breath.

The second year I was there, we had almost constant rain, wind and storms. Really bad storms! I think on Thursday morning it was actually sunny for a few hours, but the rest of it was solid rain at the least. The roads were solid churned-up mud, and Saturday night I had the opportunity to hear what an approaching tornado sounds like in real life. Yes, it does sound like an approaching train. And it's even more scary when the only shelter  you have is a pavilion.

The tradition is that dry and wet Pennisics alternate every year. My third Pennsic (1995) was also dry and unusually warm. The field battle was called off before it started because one of the marshals was smart enough to bring a thermometer to the field. Once they realized that the temperature on the battlefield was 110 degrees, they called it off before it even began. That year, during the coldest part of the coldest night, it didn't get below 80 degrees! Thursday afternoon, there was a sudden thunderstorm, and it brought the coolest air of the entire encampment. It was the first time in my life I've seen a large group of people notice a thunderstorm starting and run outside to enjoy it!

We arrived on the second Saturday in the afternoon. Pennsic runs for the first week in a very informal kind of just-camping-out-way, and I've never been there for the first week. The second Saturday is the first day that Medieval garb is required. After that, you can arrive in mundane dress, but must change as soon as possible into Medieval or Renaissance garb. And you have to get your vehicle out of there right away, too, as soon as you've unloaded.

Some of our friends had been there for a week and had taken our pavilion, so when we arrived it was already set up, and all we had to do was move in and get dressed. We were camped with Clan Lurkr, and there was a large rented tent at the entrance to our camp. This serves as not only the entrance, but the party area.

Etienne and I went to walk around the market area, and had a lot of fun admiring the tents, the buildings, and the wares of the merchants. We spent a couple of hours walking around, and Etienne remarked on how big the market area was. Then I had to tell him that he'd seen less than half of it.

That first day I bought a circlet, having gotten my AoA a few months before. Then I had the fun of going back to the main tent at camp and hanging my circlet up with the rest of the "hats." Clan Lurkr has a rule that when you arrive, you have to hang up your "hat" on one of the main tent poles. The idea is that no matter what your rank, we are all equal in camp. But there were very few circlets there. Most were coronets or crowns. Wookie's place is a favorite haunt of Royalty, mainly because of the hat rule. It gives them a chance to get away from the responsibilities of ruling and just have a good time.

Clan Lurkr is run by Wookie, whose correct Scadian name is Viscount Sir Wulfbrand Lurkr. He is the most regal and king-like person I have ever met. I have no end of respect for him.

Pennsic is one of those things that you can never see all of. There are too many things happening, and not enough time to see them all.

For the fighting enthusiasts, there is a woods battle (everyone's favorite), a field battle, a siege, a bridge battle, archery competition, rapier competition, a melee, champion's battle, and more.

There is an Arts and Sciences competition with lots of different categories to win ribbons in, and tons of classes in everything that was done during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. I have gone to classes for washing and carding wool, spinning, knitting, lucet, and lots more. There have been classes in how to make a penannular, Middle Eastern dance, other kinds of Medieval dance, and more things than I can possibly remember.

And PARTIES! Almost every camp has a party almost every night. They don't call them parties. That's just what you do at Pennsic. Thursday evening is always party night at Clan Lurkr, and that means a real blow-out, complete with bagpipers, and every other outrageous party-type behavior you can imagine.

The first night we were there, Etienne insisted that we take a walk around the whole campsite. The names of the roads are wonderful! Clan Lurkr has been at the corner of Chandler and Wainwright every year I've been there, although they moved diagonally across the intersection a while back. Etienne and I walked down a road called "Good Intentions" until we got to a fork in the road and had to choose between taking the left-hand fork, "Free Will" or the right fork, "Abandon Hope." There is humor, even in the street names. There's also a small spit of land that sticks out into the stream called "Moot Point." The whole place is a delight all by itself.

We came back to camp, and got to enjoy a Medieval story-telling session by some of the best bards in the SCA. It was magical!

Tomorrow I plan to do all the stuff that I didn't do on Monday, so I'll add more about Pennsic then, but late in the day (maybe evening).

Last night I dreamt about cables and how I could possibly do the shoulder cable for the sweater and have it lead into the edging of the sleeve. I realized that it didn't have to actually divide itself in half and turn, all I have to do is run the cables off the side edges and pick them up in the other direction. I also realized that the cable could continue into a small stand-alone motif for the top of the sleeve. 

You'll have to see it to understand what I mean. So far, it's just a vague picture in my head with many possibilities.

Have a good Wednesday!

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