Sunday, July 12, 2009

a week under canvas

The week of Canada Day saw us, as usual, camped out at Fort Rodd Hill, a medieval village under canvas. Fewer than last year, with the changed date of the Pennsic War making scheduling awkward, but still a lovely time away from the present.

Building the maze was the easiest it's ever been. Tess and Rowan, Effie, Brandy and Brianna did all the heavy work, bringing the barrows of stones over to a spot near the tents, and leaving only the layout to me. Even with that I had help from Brenda and passing children.
The system of laying out the maze is:
First, lay out 7 (or howevermany) rings of stones. The width of each passage should be a long stride (of mine - if you have longer legs, you'll have wider passages and more stones needed).
My trick is to make the innermost ring a comfortable size to stand in, take an apronful of stones, choose a direction, and pace out the next 6 rings, laying a small pile of stones at each stride. Do this for 4 quarters, then the eighths between.
The best way I've found of keeping the passages even is to work outwards from the innermost ring, walking backwards with one foot in each passage, and laying the stones as you go. Sort of like planting in furrows.
Once I had all 7 rings, Tess and Rowan were running around them as best they could, somewhat tricky when the rings don't join. As I marked off the switchbacks, they ran back and forth, and by the time I picked up the stones that had barred the entrance, the whole maze had been test-run.
I'm not using quite the classic Cretan labyrinth, because I find that one a bit boring. The design I've been using has several switchbacks to add challenge, but one long run around the outermost ring, where the young and active can get their speed up.

Tess and Rowan are 5 and old enough to stay overnight, which they insisted on whenever possible. Even sleeping with the chickens didn't deter them.

The chickens laid us an egg a day, though the 21-gun salute on Canada Day stopped eggs for some time, even though their box was covered with straw bolsters during the firing.

Here's our dining tent, the table laid for breaking one's fast. Bread and cheese, sausage, boiled eggs, apples, dried apples and prunes, butter, dripping, honey and jam. Water and small beer (which has less alcohol than ginger ale and is quite refreshing on a warm day).

Brandy and Brianna, with help from the small children, churned butter every day, and later in the week made cheese.

I tried a different layout for my atelier this year, since Mark wasn't going to be working in the other half of the tent, and I'd been finding it a bit crowded now that I've got more paintings stretched out.
The feathers are to cut quill pens from, and the little 3-legged pot has size-glue in it--gelatin made from soaking and simmering parchment scrapings and clippings. On the left corner of the tabletop is a slab and muller for grinding pigments, and a little jar of red ochre.

The weavers' village at the entrance to our camp is well established now, with two looms flanking the path, and people carding and combing wool as well as spinning with both drop-spindle and wheel.
This year Maria had her new baby with her, and yes, visitors did ask whether she was a real baby, as well as whether the chickens were real, and the perennial question of whether we were really going to eat that food.
Yes. Because it's very good food indeed.
And yes, we are sleeping here, on a good straw tick with a featherbed on top, and wool blankets.
And yes, it's a real fire. If you put your hand in, it will give you a real burn.

It was a good week. Takedown on Sunday was sad, even though it goes so much faster than setup.
Brenda and I took the straw ticks home to mulch for the gardens. Brandy, Brianna, Tess and Rowan picked up the stones from the labyrinth, leaving nothing but tracks worn into the grass.


Terri-Lynne said...

That sounds like so much fun. Is there anything about it that makes you less than enthusiastic about 'next time?' To me, it sounds like a week of way too much awesome!

batgirl said...

The hardest thing is taking down and saying goodbye to it for a year. The last couple of years a few of us have stayed the last night, with the camp mostly stripped out except for tents and bedding, to watch the deer feed and the sunset hit the lighthouse for that perfect postcard moment one last time.

Canada Day is a marathon. Even though we don't get most of the crowds (not with pirates and a huge birthday cake further down the slope) we still get enough kids through to keep us constantly 'on' and busy. I wrote about 120 names ('Linnea' was my favourite this year). I think Paul turned about 300 beads and Judy used up 200 leather scraps showing how to stamp designs.
But then it's over, and things ease up.

Terri-Lynne said...

Faboo. Is this your favorite week of the year? Or is there another as sublimely period.