Friday, 8/13/99, Artemisian Games, first night:
It is bitterly cold. It's 10 p.m. now -- an hour ago it became cold enough to see my breath. I am not dressed for this -- luckily, I brought a cloak of Kevin's that I had planned to loan to Carol -- instead, I've been wrapped in it and shivering for hours. Why am I not prepared? Because it was dripping hot in Salt Lake when we left, and we didn't realize that the Iron Springs campground is 9000 feet above sea level.
We've spent most of the evening setting up camp, eating dinner cooked by friends of Carol, trying to stay warm (Marcia loaned me a pair of socks!) This doesn't sound exciting, especially considering how few people I know here, but oddly, I'm happy.
The drive up was splendidly beautiful, especially the ice-blue lake framed by red rock hills (I don't really mean hills; what do you call hills with flat tops? Tors?) The switchbacks up the last stretch were fun (for the passenger), especially when complicated by sudden herds of cows which appear just as you're coming around a hairpin turn. This is open grazing land; I felt as if I were back in Sri Lanka.
Carol and I didn't talk much on the drive, and I appreciated the solitude. It's been...well, you can guess how it's been. A little peace, accompanied by beautiful country, was a good thing.
At camp, Carol's friends made a yummy chicken and wild rice dish for dinner. There are children in tunics running around camp, and musicians playing quietly Tomorrow will be warmer and tonight -- there are so incredibly many stars up here. You can hardly see the sky for the stars.
Time to curl up in my sleeping bag and try not to freeze. G'night. Sleep well...
Well, I managed to stay reasonably happy over the weekend, I suppose. I need to run off to teach class now, so I'll finish the entry later tonight. I promised the students I'd try to stay on campus today in case they needed help with their final papers, so I probably won't be home 'til dinnertime. Talk to you later...
Hey, I'm back. To continue...
Saturday was pretty mellow. The last SCA event I went to was Pennsic, which is the biggest event, and I think I got a sort of skewed perspective of what SCA events were like. Pennsic has fighting and dancing and bardic circles and wandering minstrels and jugglers and classes on everything from hair-braiding techniques to Middle Eastern doumbek (drumming, though I'm probably spelling it wrong) to medieval spices. It's also several days long, with thousands of people attending.
The Artemisian Games had about a hundred people, fighting, and a few bardic circles. One day's worth, pretty much. I'm sort of surprised that people would drive four or more hours in each direction to attend this (unless they're fighters). Carol and Marcia and I decided that we're going to try to organize some alternate activities for the next event, in late September. We're going to make story bones (out of wood, since I don't have easy access to many bits of bone) and lead an improv storytelling circle. Maybe do a storytelling critique group too. And if Jed is willing to send me some of his rounds, maybe we'll try to lead a roundsing in the afternoon.
On the other hand, even without activities, I was reasonably content most of the time. I spent some time babysitting Carol's friend Sina's two children, William (age 4?) and Megan (age 2?), which was actually a lot of fun. William was a bit standoffish until I sat down in his tent and sang Old MacDonald with him; after that and some swinging around/throwing up in air stuff (which didn't last long because at that altitude, throwing even a four-year-old around takes a lot of effort!), he pretty much attached himself to me for long periods of time. "Mae-ann, come play! Come! Come now!" Megan got used to me too; the big challenge with her was making sure she didn't just toddle off into the middle of nowhere. She especially liked going downhill quickly -- like water flowing downstream. The kid was fearless... I really like kids, in case you hadn't noticed. :-)
Otherwise, I read a little (started the new Suzy McKee Charnas Holdfast book, _The Conqueror's Child_; excellent exploration of gender relations, as expected. It'll be fascinating to see where this book, the fourth and last in the series, ends up). I started composing a song, though I only really managed a chorus, and I don't have a tune yet. Marcia and Carol and I pulled out the guitars and recorders (I brought my alto, and Marcia and I picked up wooden sopranos from one of the merchants there (I also bought a nice wooden candlestick, and some homemade sandalwood soap)) and went through some music. We're going to work on "Red is the Rose", "Today" (one of Carol's), "Pity Me", and maybe "Scarborough Fair". They were showing me how to do this fancy plucking thing with my right hand, both in four and three, while doing chords with my left -- it's going to take some work, but sounds awful purty.
Mainly I just rested. Enjoyed the trees. Lots of stands of tall white birches, dotted with occasional pines. It's such a different look from California wilderness -- no redwoods! It feels very clear, very clean and pure. Dry and high and empty. Peaceful.
In the evening after dinner I went to some bardics. One was mostly older people singing; nice, but a bit sleepy-making. The second I went to had some good storytellers. I was very tempted to join in but a) that camp was pretty drunk and raucous, and I didn't feel like competing with all the noise, and b) it's been a long time since I did any storytelling; I felt the need to practice some first! But it was fun listening.
Oddly enough, the most purely joyful moment was actually when I was walking between the two bardics. I was alone, and you should picture me dressed in a long white silk gown with flowing sleeves that reach to the ground. Over that is a sheer dark rose overdress, also silk, and over that is Kevin's long black hooded cloak. I was walking alone through the woods, with the cloak loose around me (I was still warm from the fire behind me), picking my way through the dark to a fire seemingly far ahead, those tall white birches all around, and a feast of stars overhead. All the picture needed was a swooping owl. I felt for a moment like someone out of a Tennyson poem or a Loreena McKennitt song: a maiden lost in the darkling wood.
Mostly, though, I was content, a little bored, and missing Kevin. I'm trying to keep busy, which helps.
And now it's Monday, 10ish. I've taught my last class at the community college; tomorrow I may try and figure out what I've learned from it. For now, I promised my students that I'd hang out in the Writing Center in case they needed help; their final papers are due Tuesday at noon, along with everything else they haven't handed in yet. I have Leah's novel with me, which I'm supposed to finish critiquing by the end of August; I'd best get cracking on that. I also promised Jacques that I'd give him a preliminary critique of his; I've read it, but haven't written anything on it yet. I need to figure out a little more info about pricing for items for the CS fund drive -- we should have mugs and t-shirts soon! That's exciting. Tonight I need to print out Julia's story and critique that before Tuesday's writing group, and of course, there's always more to revise.
I did have one story idea while I was up at Iron Springs (actually in the car coming home, I think). A story about Chaya's sister, I think. I'll have to look at the family tree and figure out who it should be; I need a youngish female protagonist, and an older aunt -- one whose story I haven't told yet. Hmm...we'll see. It's good to have an idea, though; it's been a while.
Life goes on, eh?