I'll begin Thursday morning...after three days of non-stop push to get ready and loaded, we headed out a little later than I wanted to. We had to make three stops: the post office, the gas station, and 20/20 Vision for Katherine's new glasses. After that, rather than back-tracking to go the way I had intended to, I decided to head north and angle over to the road I wanted to take. In the long run, I'm sure it actually saved a little time, but we almost got lost and so I was happy that we had the Gazetteer in the truck.
Hitting the road we wanted, we roared along (Annabelle does roar a bit, even at lower speeds) and made it to our Miss K's house around 1:30. We spent about the next hour eating lunch and chit-chatting before we moved along. I said something at one point that put Miss K into a fit of laughter--and I'm still at a loss as to what I said that was so funny!
Arriving at Heritage Park with plenty of daylight left, we got registered and I started looking around for Hawk and Jill's set up. When I spotted a familiar gray trailer, I knew where we were going to set up. We "parked" ourselves right across the 'street' (really a wide sidewalk that ribbons through the park) and began setting up. Hawk appeared after a little bit and helped us get the tent set up and beyond that gave us some very helpful (and appreciated!) pointers on setting up a canvas tent.
Abigail came in sometime in the evening bringing what was supposed to be fly (we have one but cannot find it!)...it turned out it was actually a side wall--but as that came in handy later there were no complaints! Hawk had an extra fly so we borrowed that, too. ;) All in all, I think we had a nice little cozy set up. (Sorry, no pics--Kt forgot her camera!)
Next day was "Education Day" (or "school day" if you prefer) so from 9 am to roughly 4 pm there were school kids everywhere. I wasn't set up, or prepared to be a presenter, but at some point while I was working on lunch, I look up to see a group of young'uns and chaperones standing before me in an expectant kind of way. After a moment of "good grief, now what do I do??" running through my head, I gave them the greeting of the morning and explained that while I wasn't an official presenter, that they were free to ask me any questions they might have and I would try to answer them.
That became my routine as the morning progressed and more groups stopped at my tent to see what on earth I was up to and what I could tell them--so I pitched into a subject closely related to the turnips and other root vegetables I would putting into my stew. Southern food shortages and how the women survived on very little that they had to make do with and feed their children. I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the words and sentences rolled off my tongue and praise the Lord that my normal stress stutter and word mixing did not make an appearance! I only remember the faces out of three or four groups, but my favorite was a small mob of eighth grade Hispanic boys. They were enjoying themselves mightily I believe and while some of the questions they asked me were silly, such as "are you really going to eat that?" (the stew), I think there were other good ones. I can't really remember now, I had an absolute blast bantering with them as they were just fun! As they were fixing to move off, one of them inquired, "Can we taste your stew?" I don't know if my eyes got big or not (I rather think they might have), but while I laughingly informed them that it wasn't done, my internal mind is looking at 8-10 teenage boys and yelping, "No way!! This is my lunch and supper!! If each of them tried it there wouldn't be any left!" That might have been a slight exaggeration, but irregardless, I would think that legally the reenactors probably shouldn't be feeding spectators anyway.
Later on, while sitting under Hawk and Jill's fly, I would see this same group of boys--and get asked if the stew was good. (It was.) Hawk had an absolute blast with them as well and when they finally left there were fist bumps and funky handshakes and hugs. It was hilarious. (Oh yeah...I forgot. They wanted to get their picture taken with me!! I had forgotten that. They were just enthusiastic about everything.)
One of the most interesting interchanges I witnessed during the day happened shortly after the boys had left and a bored group or two had gone through. Into the shade of the fly stepped another group of eighth graders, headed by this cute little blonde girl with big glasses and an attitude that became apparent when she opened her mouth. She was an adamant Unionist.
Hawk, not quite his usual joke-cracking self, set about asking questions. He's good at this: ask questions that challenge the "party line", the "brainwashing". As he kept firing questions at her, I was watching her face and those of her classmates. As they were forced to answer his questions, to look at the facts, or at least the other side of the issue, it was like seeing light bulbs going on in their eyes. It is a fascinating thing to see people's eyes being opened as they are encouraged to exercise their mental faculties. Finally, after a bit of getting them to think, Hawk asked one question/made a request: that all the ones who believed in defending the Constitution at the cost of the Union should come stand on one side of the tent--and whoever would betray the Constitution (and consequently our liberties) for the sake of the Union to remain where they were. Get this: Every single one of those kids went over to the Confederate side of the tent--including our little blonde girl. The teacher was called over by the kids, but he raised his fist and declared, "The Union forever!" Moments later, as this situation got slightly awkward, the kids were rapped at that it was time to go. If there is one thing I want to learn from Hawk...it is how to force people to think the way he does. He seems so nonchalant about it and it's fascinating to watch him "work".
Friday evening, Abigail and Grace arrived to spend the night with us in-tent! As we were standing/sitting around chattering like magpies, we spotted Luke and Andrew walking down the "street" craning their necks around in obvious search of someone or something....Grace, being a little ornery, popped behind a trashcan (hiding!), hailing her brothers at about the same time they turned around. They continued to walk away and Grace looked disappointed that they had not seen her (which in fact, at least Andrew had). The boys had come to find out who they were going to fall in with in the morning, but they stayed around for a bit of a cozy chat (six people, plus two tables and a few other items under a fly in the rain is cozy). They finally betook themselves home (that sounds like we wanted them to leave...which wasn't the intent!) and the girls made ready to hit the hay--or sack rather. Three of us literally "sacked out" on the ground on our sleeping pallets and sleeping bags while the one with the cot was elevated over the boxes of clothing and excess (kitchen stuff, towels, candles, etc.)
I had the dubious honor of being the first one up....and after nipping out of the tent as quietly as possible I proceeded to attempt (that's a key word in this sentence) to chop up some wood into small enough pieces to fit in our brazier. Well yes, I believe I did wake up the other girls with my persistent, stubborn "thump! thump! thump!" as I tried to whack away with a dull hatchet on damp wood. I just wanted my coffee, that's all. So anyway, after they all got up, I got dressed and went back to my whacking...eventually, over the course of the day, I whacked, Josh whacked, Luke whacked, Mr. K whacked, and a complete stranger whacked at the wood. The hatchet, though it felt sharp to the touch simply wasn't wanting to cut wood. It got kind of funny after a while.....
Anyway...we ate breakfast and collecting our instruments we headed for the train station where we played for a little bit before actually getting on board and continuing to play on and off through the whole ride to the other train station (they even put us on the PA system!!) We got out there and played a little more (by the way, many thanks to Josh for hurrying up as the train was fixing to roll and handing his guitar tuner and music book through the window! I really needed the tuner...)
The scenario this year, if I gathered correctly, was that the Yankee's were transporting gold on the train...they also had a prisoner (whom we boldly serenaded with "Dixie" as they marched him through the car). The Confederates got on board at the second train station and as they made their way through the cars they demanded people put their hands up. As they got to our car, I couldn't exactly raise my hands as I had my guitar in one hand and Abigail's violin and bow in the other. The soldier in front leveled his pistol at my as I sat there staring at him and asked gruffly, "Can you play a tune?" to which I responded, "I could...if both hands weren't full." Then he demanded, "Can you play Dixie?" "Yes, SIR!" Handing Abigail back her violin we threw ourselves into it. (We also played Dixie for General Lee--who was actually camped across from us with General Grant! We were introduced to him two weeks ago at Hartford City and he really seems to be a kind man. He told us several times over the weekend that he enjoyed our music--we played various times singly or together throughout the course of the weekend.)
The skirmish at the train station wasn't quite as spectacular this year I didn't think...but no matter. We had fun.
When we got back to came I went straight to getting the fire going again and making lunch. I was feeding the K's and Josh and as five of them were engaged in the battle in various manners, so I had to get them fed before 2 pm. I was pushing it. They had just enough time to eat before they hurried off to fight for our glorious Confederacy.
The battle really could have stood a few more Yankee infantry--there were only like six? They Yankee's were literally out-numbered by the gaggle of girls pretending to be nurses. It makes me snigger because not a one of those girls really seriously seems to have any know-how on how to deal with wounded men. For instance...walking a fellow with a leg wound off the field, little girlie has him by naught but the elbow. Okay, so I know it's all play-acting and fake--but let's try to bring a little bit of reality to this, please. If a guy has a gaping hole in his leg, he isn't going to be tripping along so nicely. You're going to have to help him to walk if he can even walk and you don't do that by daintily gripping his elbow. Right. Rant over. Maybe next time I ought to just descend from my high horse and go grab the fellow. ;)
Among "our boys", Josh was first on a cannon and then helping with the wounded. He made it out unscathed. Luke was shot through the upper arm. He got by without an amputation. Andrew, poor fellow, was mauled in the leg by the grape shot and was mortally wounded, dying in the Yankee field hospital. Obadiah and Isaac, flag bearers both, made it out apparently fine.
After the battle, some of the K's left, while the rest stayed (dear Mr. K helped Katherine with the dishes!!) and talked, laughed, and played music and sang. Josh is a guitar player so he joined us.
The K's left closer to 6 than they did 5...and I got to carry the fellows reenacting weapons out to Luke's truck. I don't know if I'm a nut or not, but it's something of a privilege when people let me carry their firearms. ;) There were hugs and handshakes all around and farewell if we don't see you tomorrows (we had borrowed stuff we had to drop off at their place when we left).
I had a biscuit with butter on it for supper and got ready for the ball. The ball was fun--even though I only danced with one person for the whole evening. :D Mr. Roy was nice. This particular dance goes from 7-10, unlike most that I've been to which go from 8-11. It is actually rather nice because it allows one to get to bed earlier.
Sunday was a nice, pretty restful day (despite the bit of rain and the need for packing). Katherine and I sat around after breakfast and before church and played hymns. While we were doing so, Hawk (who is a minister and the man to preach at the church service) come over and asked us if we felt confident enough to play for a bit before the service (like a prelude) and during his alter call. (I know, being a Presbyterian, we don't "do" alter calls, but I am not going to look down my self-righteous nose at people who do...particularly the way Hawk does them because he also calls up believers who simply have something they would appreciate prayer over. In other words, it's not just a 'give you life to Jesus' emotional gimmick [which is what some of the alter calls I've seen feel like], but a real "I want to pray with/for you" thing.) What's more, when Hawk goes to the Word, he's serious and earnest in his handling of it. The message was both encouraging and edifying (as was the other one I've heard him preach). While I can't remember the exactly chapter/verse, the text he spoke from was out Matthew when Jesus walked on the water. He drew from it the follow points (and I forget exactly how he tied each one to the passage, but he did): 1) just as your physical person needs feeding, so does your spiritual and the way you feed your soul is by reading your Bible--and regularly. 2) We must exercise our faith--examples he gave were praying in public (don't be embarrassed or abashed to do so) and sharing the gospel with people. 3) We need fellowship with other Christians--regardless of denomination. 4) We must communicate with God--in prayer.
We did play during the alter call (and communion! I've never had communion at a reenactment before and didn't expect to play during it but when he said--"when the music begins", I looked at Katherine and said, "Play this one!" We swung it okay. We were also sitting in the back because it's kind of our policy that we don't want to be center stage in situations of this sort.) Several people came up afterwards and thanked us for playing, saying it added to the service. We thanked them for their kind words and I at least, felt a little silly. I am pleased, naturally, that people liked the music, but we didn't play for accolades...just simply because Hawk asked us to and to try to bring glory to God. I do think that music has the ability to put people into a thoughtful mindset--particularly if they are familiar with the words of the hymns being played. I just think we need to work on a wider repertoire because Hawk asked if we might not consider doing it again next time he preaches and we are there.
Just sayin', I think I played my guitar more in the last weekend than I have the last three months put together. It felt good. Now I need to get new strings. ;)
After church, I made lunch for us and Hawk and Jill and then we sat around for a few hours talking and minorly packing and letting the rain pass us by. Some of us did go watch the battle...and guess what? The Confederates won!
When we did finally get around to packing up in earnest, I made this awful discovery that I had apparently lost mom's set of truck keys! (Thankfully, we had a second set with us.) I still haven't found them. I asked up at the registration/command post if anyone had turned in a set of keys--someone had but they weren't mine. I didn't loose them in Abigail's car (she looked for me) and I did not find them in any of the boxes when we got home, so I am entirely at a loss. Anyway, I took the other set of keys and upon arriving at where Annabelle was parked I found that the battery was dead. Like D.E.A.D. I think the interior lights may have been accidentally left on and it drained the battery. I was going to go back and get Hawk to give me a jump (I was slightly worried that the starter had died on me--though looking back I can see various reasons that should have indicated to me that it was the battery and not related to the starter at all) and as I walked across the parking lot, "Cousin" Ron (we met him last year and helped out at their sutlery on Education Day) hailed me from across the way, "Are you dead?" "Yes!" "Hang on! I'll get you going again!" He probably had to unhook his trailer to come and jump me, but he did it with cheerfulness and in a little while, Annabelle was alive again. I thanked him profusely and he just grinned and made it clear he didn't mind at all.
At anyrate, by the time we got packed up and had eaten at least a quarter of a watermelon with Hawk and Jill, it was shortly after 6...so we headed off to the K's and caught most of their evening church service. The sermon was a good one concerning how to deal with domestic violence from a biblical perspective (I think they are working through the 10 commandments using the WLC, if I caught details right there).
Once that was over and an amount of conversation/reflection on the sermon took place, we resorted to the front porch for popcorn and apples (rest easy, Mum! It was non-GMO corn! :D) There were puppies all over the place and I got to cuddle one or two...Obadiah piped up at my elbow, "See...you need a puppy!" I just laughed...they are sweet little dogs, but I have plenty of cats right now. ;)
We slipped off to the shop to see a WWII Willies Jeep they had in there (someone else's) and I was allowed to sit in the driver seat. Those seats were very familiar feeling...I think I was probably grinning like an absolute goof-ball the whole time! Then we went in to look at pictures Abigail had taken on a recent trip. Out of the middle of nowhere, Katherine realized the time and tapped her watch, "We need to go!" Sure enough...it was still about another 30 minutes later when we left, but at least we got started at that point. I appreciated the cup of coffee Luke prepared for the driver (me!) and we got home safe and sound around 12:30 am. Katherine sent out all the "we're home" texts to those who needed them and after a hot shower we went to bed.
I must say that that I have had an extremely surprising amount of energy since coming home. I really didn't drag around yesterday (Monday) and go the truck unloaded and a number of things done--some of it writing on this, but I wasn't drained exhausted like I expected to be. Once again, I can say, "Praise the Lord for continued healing!!" Energy and stamina levels are increasing.
Well, once we get lunch here, I need to get out there and start mowing. The grass has had a two week stretch again between mowings and it needs it...