Today was the first “school day” of the year at the new renaissance faire that just opened last year. You know, the one where I tripped and fell and received the blow that led to an emergency appendectomy a week later. I had signed Jasper and myself up for a field trip with the homeschool group, but we didn’t actually stick together at all once we got there.
Jasper acted as my squire, carrying my chair for me, because the only way I can survive a day at a venue like a renaissance faire is if I carry a comfortable chair with me. (And a big silver umbrella to shield me from the sun.)
In a way, going to this faire seems very strange to me. So many of the people from “my” much-loved faire are there, but of course it’s not the same faire at all. It’s kind of like a dream where you are in your own house, except that it’s nothing like your real house at all. The same bagpiper piped us into the faire after the opening cannon. The Punch and Judy guy was there to greet us. Carol, the “white tent” lady was there, on the right side right inside the entrance, just like at the other faire. Many other vendors were also familiar.
On school days there is just one show going on at a time, which makes it very easy to figure out what to do at any given time. I looked on today as a “scouting mission” for a future trip, so we sat through most of the shows. They have a new juggler/jester who is kind of adorable and the kids loved him. The other shows were actually quite similar to each other, and they didn’t have any music shows at all, other than two “lane acts” and the piper, all of whom are familiar to me.
We skipped the Punch and Judy show to beat the lunch rush at the Greek/Gypsy food booth. Because I love that food so very much, I knew ahead of time that would be my one splurge at the faire today. Jasper and I shared a lavish platter of goodness and it was delicious! Jasper also got to hang out with some of his friends that he hadn’t known would be there.
My favorite show of the day by far was the birds of prey show. I am so glad that guy came back. It is so interesting to see the birds up close and learn more about them.
The jousting was, well, underwhelming. It was fun to watch, but it is hard to get used to theatrical jousting when you are used to the “real” thing. I had more fun watching the resident spinner spin some alpaca yarn while her angora bunnies hopped around in a pen beside her.
So what stood out to me about this experience? Two things. The last half hour of the faire (it closes quite early on school days) Jasper was off hanging out with the blacksmith (not the one we’re actually friends with). I was out of money so there was no point in looking through booths at all the stuff I couldn’t afford. The Walking Bones were sitting at a picnic table playing recorders, so I sat down on the other side of the table. They were one of the lane acts and I have enjoyed listening to them for several years.
There was no other audience. Just the two of them and me–yet they continued to play and chat with me. They had a descant recorder and a standard recorder that they traded back and forth as they played various medieval tunes. It was like audible peace.
We talked about really old music and they sang a song in Old English. After which the guy flawlessly quoted the opening lines of Beowulf in the original Old English. Yeah, I’m the kind of person who thinks that is so cool. I gave them my very last dollar and was sorry that’s all I had.
And finally, I have to tell you about Lady Claire. Lady Claire made my day. Moments after Jasper and I walked into the faire, we were accosted by Lady Claire and her enchanting cart of odds and ends. She greeted us so kindly, and in a very British accent, and then asked me, not Jasper, if I would like a free charm. Who’s gonna say no to free? Not me.
Then she wanted to know what kind of charm I wanted. I was nonplussed. She offered some suggestions, and I went with “happiness.” She got a coffee filter paper and began taking things out of her collection of fancy bottles and boxes. Into my paper she put joy, kindness, wisdom (a pearl), laughter, tea (how did she know?), stars, lavender, and fairy dust. And maybe a few other things. When my “charm” was complete, she twisted it up inside the paper and handed it to me with a smile. It was the perfect start to my day at the faire.
At the end of the day, after I hung out with the Walking Bones and was on my way out of the faire, there was Lady Claire again. “You can’t leave without choosing a favor,” she said. She held out a velvet bag and I reached in and pulled out a piece of glass with a tiny dolphin painted on it:
“Do you know what that means?” she asked. “Dolphins love to play, and because you picked a dolphin that means you need to play more. You need to give yourself permission to play and have more fun!”
I know it was all just part of her act, but yes, I was charmed. I felt that she had singled me out for her special brand of encouragement. When I got home, I carefully emptied the contents of my happiness “charm” into a tiny glass bottle and glued my dolphin glass onto the cork. It’s a totally free little souvenir of the faire and it makes me smile.