Tomorrow morning I pack my wooden box full of clothes which will be hot, uncomfortable, restrictive and silly looking. I will drive an hour or so and then will help my husband Bearded Eagle (Ken) erect our lodge for the holiday weekend. This is no easy task, and by the time we are finished our backs will be aching. I'll set up a bed and then wooden chairs which will be covered in deer hide or sheepskin. Bearded Eagle will ponder what lashing needs to be done to make a makeshift table out of branches. I'll hang up a bearskin alongside the willow branch mandella which identifies our white canvas dwelling as belonging to "Bearded Eagle and Singing Owl." While I chop onions, Bearded Eagle will make a fire using only a flint and steel. I'll make admiring noises at how quickly he does this. We will brew coffee in an ancient pot on the fire and cook up a pot of something yummy called "Mountain Man's Breakfast." We'll don our buckskin "outfits" --and the transformation into Bearded Eagle and Singing Owl will be complete!
We'll greet others who also have assumed aliases, and we'll compete in such lofty and essential activities as knife and tomahawk throwing or skillet tossing. When night falls we will light beeswax candles in our lanterns and sit around the fire listening to animal sounds in the woods around us and singing happily.
Or, alternatively, we will listen to rain and wind as we huddle in our lodge and hope the weather clears soon. Why do we do this?
Good question, and one I often ask myself, especially after a day or two of living in primitive style -- and starting to miss my kitchen and my flush toilet and my bed and my shower. This fur-trade era reenacting seems rather silly!
Perhaps it is for the sheer fun of play acting. Playing "dress up" was one of my favorite pastimes as a little girl. Or perhaps it is because food cooked over a campfire (especially one started without matches) tastes better than food cooked on my stove. Or perhaps it is because sometimes....when the mood is right...the only light is candles....the only sounds are natural ones...and the figures seen in the dim lamplight are dressed in garb not seen since the early 1800s...sometimes...it is magical.
It really is possible, sometimes, to feel transported to another place, another era, another culture. It's eerie almost. But it is like nothing else. And when it happens it is worth the backache and the lack of plumbing.
Back in a few days!