I promised my dear friend, Mary (Beyond Mirays), that I would help her at the Canterbury Renaissance Faire near Silverton, Oregon, this summer. It seemed simple enough: a Saturday and a Sunday helping sell the fine artwork my friend creates.
This was not a strict SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event, so there was a lot of leeway on the costumes. I’m not certain how I feel about that. yet: certainly people took advantage of the lack of guidelines, and the fact that this event is sandwiched between The Oregon Country Fair and Faerieworlds meant that it attracted a lot of, um, er – creative costumes. Faeries abounded.
The Queen made her rounds. She rode her horse through the camp on Saturday morning, visited each vendor during the afternoon, and ended the Faire with a final walk-through. I liked the fact that we had royalty on the grounds for the re-enactment as it made up for the lack of true participation among some of the vendors and many of the visitors.
It was all so – royal. I’m still not used to the shouts of “God Save the Queen”, but I know that if I put my heart into the character played, it would seem quite natural.
This first weekend was my Dress Rehearsal for future events. I do not plan on going to another Ren Faire event this year, but I could hone my dress and acting skills for next year.
Mistress Mary was adept at drawing in prospective buyers and it seemed we always had at least a pair of fair maidens perusing the adornments.
The biggest draw at her booth was the Turret. For a dollar, a child could stick his or her hand into the darkness of the castle and feel around for “treasure” – or rats! The rats were gummy rats or cinnamon-flavored rats on a stick; the treasure was hand-made jewelry for boys or girls. Mary’s ten year old grandson made all the jewelry. It was so much fun to draw the kids in, entice them with visions of treasure, and congratulate them on their prizes (and most were just as pleased with rats as they were with the chap trinkets).
Right in front of Mary’s booth was this diseased alder tree.
It didn’t take me long to develop a story about the fairies who lived there and grabbed at passerby. The tree attracted a lot of male attention – and a few chuckles when I espoused my fairy tree theory. For me, the photos are inspiration for future projects.
This pony was a patient sort and was very much needed on Saturday when the temps rose higher than predicted! It reached the low 90′s on Saturday.
There was jousting, but I did not attend the events. Music, jesters, plays – I felt a responsibility at the booth (when you tell someone you’re going to help out, that’s what you do). We were not far from the main stage and music drifted over us all the time, so I do not feel as if I missed a single thing. The jousting was really for the pleasure of the Time Travelers who came to visit – and it provided a much needed break in the activity of hawking and selling for the vendors. Our feet really needed those breaks!
The fellow with the pet rooster (a Silver Phoenix from Japan) was discussing feathers with a former client of his (whose hat sports the breast and tail feathers of a Silver Phoenix rooster). I liked the irony of the living, breathing pet and the plumage of a former rooster on the hat.
The rooster was a hit among Faire-goers, whether they were of the time period of from the future.
The Queen’s handmaidens were always wandering about, as were the Knights.
The wizard-like character was selling Goblin Ear purses. He was a hoot. He never left character. I talked him out of a business card, so I guess I should purchase a goblin ear from him in the near future. I can use it for other costumes.
Oh, I had so much fun. I can hardly write about that – there’s simply no way to put into words how much enjoyment I derived from the characters, the smells, the vendors, the sounds – and a few of the smiles on children’s faces. There were visitors to the faire that did not understand that they were walking into a play, but they viewed it as a market of sorts (“a flea market” my friend said). They would not engage with the actors (vendors), but walked through as if their sole purpose was to pass from one end to the other as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
They have forgotten how to view the world from the eyes of a child – if ever they knew. You can’t walk into a venue like this and leave your imagination and wonder back inside the television at home. You have to come in, wide-eyed and expectant. The world is all new at a faire: you are in the middle of a play and you are one of the actors!
I did peruse some of the other vendors when Mary and I allowed ourselves breaks from the action. There were some great artists showcasing their merchandise – and there were also a few reselling something mass-produced from somewhere else (yawn). Most everyone was having fun with the play.
Sunday was much cooler. Throughout the day, we could hear hawks overhead but it was not until the later afternoon that I spied them. I walked over to where a small group of knights were staring up into the trees, counting the birds. There were six. I peered up and suggested we were looking at sharp-shinned hawks (or, rather, queried if that was the case). No, those are peregrine falcons.
Of course, I snapped as many rough photos as I could (I was without my 300mm lens on Sunday). I hoped to get at least one identifiable photo out of the bunch to see if I could identify the birds.
This is a link to the Peregrine Falcon. Note the tail – this is important. Also – listen to the bird.
This is the Sharp-Shinned Hawk. See above: note the tail and listen.
The latter bird is the one I heard all day.
This was my best photo. You can see from the links above that it is *not* a Pergrine Falcon. I did look at the Cooper’s Hawk as well, but the song is all wrong. We were looking at Sharp-Shinned Hawks.
Identifying the hawks was a private moment of glory – I really was more interested in the transcendent moment of watching them and feeling the beauty of God’s glory in their awful creation. They were dining on small creatures and I overheard someone say they found a dead Heron chick under the hawks’ nest. Nature is nothing short of brutal in its beauty – and honest.
I love playing “dress-up” and have one more fair slated for this summer – the last Faerieworlds at the current venue (Mt. Pisgah by Eugene, Oregon).