I’m such a nerd, I wanted to dress up like I was back in Jane Austen’s time.
Well, maybe not for that precise reason. I wanted to participate in a reenactment, and conveniently, my cousins were planning on going to one they’ve done for the last five years that’s not too far from my new home. It was set in the War of 1812 time period – like much of Indiana history is – so I was tasked with sewing myself a period-correct dress, complete with all visible stitching done by hand.
So there I was, perched on a Windsor-style wooden chair in my bright red linen dress. (Side note: I hate empire-waist dresses, but I suffered through this one all weekend for the sake of faithfulness to the period fashions. Would I ever do something like that for modern fashions? Nope. Call me inconsistent.) My cousins were all around, likewise attired in an oh-so-obsolete manner. We had two chickens trapped in a period-correct, reed-woven chicken cage.
Then the kiddies came along and wanted to pet the chickens. Who pets chickens? They’re farm animals, not kitties.
(Let this be a warning to you. Beware what search terms you plug into Google Images.)
Eventually I got to handle the chickens to let passersby pet them. (Such city-dwellers. Some of the kids had never even seen a chicken up close.) And I narrated the history of these chickens. They were Mil Fleur breed chickens, a kind of Bantam, and the one was so docile (letting hundreds of people pet her without so much as a nip at a child’s finger) because this particular breed had been domesticated by the Romans, it’s thought. The longer a breed is domestic, the more docile it becomes.
I repeated that schpiel, oh, five hundred times for the astonished little passersby. They were so cute. Some of them were even afraid to touch the chicken. What, these are things you eat. It’s not going to eat you back.
Also, at one point I handed the chicken off to a cousin and pulled out a dulcimer. Then a guy came by with his family and hung back to listen. I think he may have been smitten.
But after the chicken, there was the rain. Just as the big river battle was set to begin, drops began sprinkling from the sky. So I and my little camera stuck it out through the drizzle in the shelter of a tree.
No, silly. That’s not me. I’m not a guy.
After the river battle, it was still raining. But I had not seen the epic Great Field Battle reenactment, occurring at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Or some times like that. It was multiple times a day, so how I’d missed it all the rest of the day I’m not sure.
One of my cousins – armed with his nifty DSLR camera – and I walked across the reenactment site to the battlefield. It wasn’t a short walk, either, and rain kept falling.
By the time we got to the battlefield, my wool-tablecloth-cum-shawl was rather wet, but I was still relatively dry. (My feet, however, may not have been.) We found a spot pretty close, about 20 feet from one of the cannon, and kept our cameras as dry as possible while still capturing the excitement.
All hope for my hair was gone after that battle, but my camera still worked.
Making our way past the port-a-pots to our campsite – at least we didn’t have period-correct outhouses – we debated the relative merits of going shopping a bit in the rain, or finding shelter in the tent. We opted for the tent. And then we pulled out a pair of tinwhistles to play period-correct music!
In fact, we did venture out into the rain for a shopping excursion later, just before all the merchants closed. I was very wet, but I got lots of ideas for next year.
(Yes, already planning for next year….)
More to come: The ball! Dancing! Music! Not having to wrap myself in wool to stay warm!