This weekend marked the start of my 15th season as a Civil War Reenactor. It’s hard to believe I’ve been at it this long. Most of my adult life, really. And 14 of the 15 years with the same group, Cushing’s Battery. YIKES!
As with every other year, we kick off the season at the historical village in Elm Grove, WI, the Dousman Stagecoach Inn. The weather never really cooperates (It’s early May in Wisconsin. We consider ourselves lucky if there is no snow on the ground!) but the crowds always seem to come no matter what. The number of reenactor participants ebbs and flows along with the number of spectators, but it is always a great introduction to the season. A small living history without much activity to shake the dust off, get back into the swing of things, reconnect with friends we’ve known for years, make a few new ones with members picked up at the end of the last season and just generally remind ourselves why we love our hobby.
This year marks the start of a new path for me. Most of my first dozen years or so were spent developing a passion for outdoor cooking. I’m rather well known for my pie baking prowess in camp and can, if so inclined, turn out one heck of a full meal to go with the pies. Recently though, our schedule has gotten a bit shorter and more of the events we do provide a Saturday evening meal for the participants. This coupled with the shrinking size of our group means I don’t have need to do so much cooking anymore. And frankly, I’ve gotten lazier over time. The amount of effort it takes to make pies really doesn’t change if I make one or 10- still have to build and tend the same fire, haul the same amount of water and do all the same bits of clean up, so it turns out I have less desire to bake if I only need one or 2 pies to feed everyone. I’ll still do it if the weather looks cooperative or if I just have a hankering for an amazing pie, but it also means I need something else to do with myself all day.
Last year I had great plans to accomplish a LOT of knitting in camp. And then we had kittens. They were too little to stay home alone last year so until our last event or two, they got hauled along for every event. They did great and provided a jumbo sized helping of entertainment for me and everyone else in camp, but they could tie their leashes in knots faster than I could blink . So over the course of the entire summer, I managed less than one sock. Pathetic progress under any other circumstance!
At the end of last season I decided to pursue spinning with visions of bringing a wheel along and amusing myself by actually MAKING the yarn I can then knit. One thing leading to another and then another, this became my plan for the new season. My first wheel, Millie, is far too modern a gal to come along, but George, my loaner-turned-second wheel (Still testing out the name. But George seems good right at the moment) is perfect. He began his life getting hauled to events so it seems fitting that he should continue in the hobby in his new life. This is the first weekend I’ve gotten to bring George along. It’ll be interesting to see if a spinning wheel attracts as much attention from feral children as kittens did. It’ll be interesting to see if I get as much spinning time as I anticipate. I hope to try my hand at natural dying at some point this summer. Should work out nicely- I can stoke up the fire to bake some pies and put the dye kettle on at the same time. Then we can hope that my spinning skills produce something I can knit into a hat or socks for Mr.Me, all providing some interesting discussion with spectators on things women did during the Civil War to support the men who were fighting it.
So ,for the second time in a week, I get to experience a new beginning. I wonder where this one will lead.