As I am sitting here thinking about it, the South Eastern Primitive is in full swing in Yakinsville, NC. It was a beautiful weekend this past for my time there and Mikey is still at it and will be there until closing. While I was there, I helped him put up the shower privy behind our tent, smack daub in the middle of the dried up lake, as was, when it rained on Friday. Sounds pretty logical to me as the water has a place to go and it’s muddy there already. He’s one of the few to have this convenience and, let me tell you, it’s a needful thing if one is staying for more than a day. Sherry , Dave and Doug Walsh came up for the weekend too and we crammed up pretty comfy in the new wedge. Norma and Bob are there as well for the whole time and, while we were talking, Norma made the comment that people who go to these events are ones who probably would have loved to have lived in another time. This got me to thinking about a lot of things.
Rendevous are so different that reenactments at a historical site. It’s more free flow, more accepting of historical interpretations rather than historical accuracy. You have to admit , though, in spite of stitch counting and those who think authentic is authentic, we still fall prey to 21st century attitudes and addictions, and I don’t care who you are. Primitives, though, really remind me of camping ala rough while wearing funny clothes. One of the things I had to deal with while I was at the Primitive was precisely the lack of shower and the results of everyone being in the same situation. When we have a muster, we can rely on those wonderful modern conveniences like a full bathroom. The smell of Dial soap is pretty pleasant and flush toilets are a modern joy. This past weekend, I was brushing my teeth double time as that was the one thing I knew I could get clean! If I was going to smell like cat poo, at least I would have sweet breath! Even at those events that have none of the modern accoutrements, one can still find a toilet or Blue Spring somewhere close. As it was, I was catching full whiffs of the scuzz-funk that seemed to envelope all, including me (most of all, I think), and I was reminded of Elizabeth the Great who held a cloved orange to her nose for most of her life becasue she couldn’t stand the smells she was bombarded with. Then I happened to think of what she said about baths; to whit, she only bathed once a month, whether she needed it or not.
The smell of smoke penetrates everything and, while a little goes a long way, at times I wished for my modern stove and oven as I was dodging the smoke burning my eyes and nostrils. Camping in 30 degree weather is also meant to remind me about how thankful I am of heaters and blankets, mummy bags, fleece and thermal underwear- oh , the warmth of it! It makes one appreciate the hardy toughness of those who slept on straw and thought they had died and gone to Heaven.
The feel of linen, wool and silk socks is also very nice, especially when you think how rough the material was that the hoi paloi wore against their skins. This is assuming they had anything to cover their nekkidness other than some worn out rags they were able to piece together once in a while. I had a pair of indigo dyed blue silk socks under a pair of cashmere socks- felt dang good. When I got home, though, and peeled this off, my legs and feet were blue and I thought I had circulatory problems until I realized it was the indigo. Can you imagine the color schemes of people’s skins back in the day? Of course, I’m sure they could go to the tub and wash it , the dirt and the scuzz-funk all off with modern soap, right?
We had all our food in coolers; Mike made filet mignon on Saturday night. It’s no accident that the French came up with all the incredible sauces they did to hide the turning meat and offal they had to eat. Now we call it gourmet; back then it was viands to keep the body going.
When I think about it, we play at being 18th century folk in a 21st century time. When I thought about stripping away all the modern things I had with me (though well hidden), I thought seriously of how there would have been no way in Hades I could have survived without them. It really makes one appreciate the modern, for sure , and appreciate those who had to make do with the hardships and inconveniences because that was just the way it was. The short of it is, I honor those who lived then but am glad I can go back home to my nice warm, electrified house and watch TV.
Check it out; they have their own Webpage! http://www.southeasternprimitiverendezvous.com/