Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Searching for the Bard

Anyone who knows me well, knows I am never far from my camera. I have tried to take advantage of my free time lately by taking in as many local Virginia sites as possible. An example of this was my first visit to a Renaissance Fair, an event I knew little about.

Of course I had seen pictures of damsels in their themed gowns, knights jousting on their horses, and such. Naturally the day I picked to attend was 95 degrees. I have to admit I have a lot of admiration for folks so devoted to their hobby they are willing to wear heavy long brocade gowns, full metal armor, and heavy woolens in such heat. I was also amazed at how serious they are. The word 'Reenactor' falls short in describing this interest - these folks completely immerse themselves into this world. The event is not to be taken lightly.  

Entering their world was like truly stepping back in time - centuries in time - back to the years of 1300-1600 of the Renaissance period. Everything was in theme.  Even the food served was of the time - huge turkey legs smoked over open fires. 


There were tents (of appropriate period design) serving mead, ale, wine, and braggot. (No, I do not know exactly what 'Braggot' is.) One of the few modern distractions that pierced the period theme were the Kelly green bracelets anyone wanting to partake of adult beverages was required to wear after being ID'd when entering the realm. 

There were few people like me, not in period wear. Even the children were running about playing 'Renaissance' themed games. The first part of my visit was in an open field with no shade. The heat was almost unbearable for me even though I was dressed in shorts and a sleeveless shirt.  Walking among the jolly knights and fair maidens, I felt as if I were an interloper into a world far far away. It was truly, "Once upon a time."

Moving through the field, I worked my way to the bottom of the hill where I found, much to my delight, that the fair continued in a heavily shaded area under large oaks. That was when I seriously felt I had been transported to another world. I walked about listening to the casual talk among the people, all in heavy accented English of the time. Not that I really know what idle chat in the Renaissance times sounded like, but what I heard was what I imagined. 

There were offerings of magical crystals, goat cream, and such. Merchants bartered their wares. The stalls and tents of vendors offered such as lavender soaps and sachets, authentically appropriate styled black leather boots, Capitano hats, Squire caps, Snoods, Neck Wisks, Basquines, men's Doublets, and other accouterments and accessories of the period.

I had just stepped into the forest when I saw the best photo I could imagine. Naturally I was not prepared to shoot it. The site of a knight in armor coming out of a porta-john was truly surreal. I still to this day regret not getting that shot. Being a bit reticence about photographing people, it wasn't long before I realized my camera was not a concern. In a way, they were happy that their world was being photographed. Once I was photographing a jester walking through the field when he stopped, turned, and looked at me. I froze, but before I could apologize, he was jumping about smiling for the camera. Obviously, I was not an issue. 

Under a large stand of oaks, I spotted the Queen - as in Queen Elizabeth - holding court. Participants in full dress were approaching her throne, bowing and genuflecting in respect, asking for blessings, forgiveness, and any other issue for which they needed  'royal' approval. The Queen was surrounded by her 'court'. With a simple nod from her highness in their direction they would approach the throne to do her bidding. 

Not that I would recognize such Renaissance notables as Nicolaus Copernicus, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, or Raphael,  I figured they were lurking about somewhere. After all here was the Good Queen Bess herself. Being an English major, the thought of perhaps running into the Bard of Avon made my heart flutter. 

It would not take much imagination to see part of the Fair resemble Hieronymus Bosch's 'Garden of Earthly Delights' - just without the nudes. Actually come to think of it, nudes would be more suitable for the weather. But, I digress.

Making my way past the royal court, I walked along a path where musicians lyrically playing Dulcians, Lutes, Bagpipes, and Hurdy-gurdies (I had to inquire about the later) were seated. There was an acrobat above, twirling and swirling in the air.

I left the fair enlightened. As I made my way pass the barkers selling tickets, I turned to find my car among the 100's parked in a large field. I felt as if I were time travelling. This was when the world became totally weird. There was a jagged edge between the 1500's and 2019. Among the lines of parked cars was a man in period dress carrying bagpipes walking beside a mother in a short sundress pushing a Graco stroller with 2 year old lagging behind. Two women dressed in elegant costumes were waiting for an arriving car to move past so they could make their way back in time. Boy Scouts were waving orange plastic flags directing the hoards who were pouring into fair. A young lady in goth walking beside a man in a suit of armor made their way to the entrance.

I found myself back to the future. Not that it was on my bucket list, but I can check this off. 

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