08 October 2020

Notes from Exile: I think it's October

Me and my best girl, Bryn.
(Carolina Renn Fest)
It felt like October around here for a while last week, but now we are firmly back in August/September. October means faire season, under normal circumstances. It means leaving the house at O'Dark-Thirty to drive two hours and then work all day outdoors with one of my hounds at my side. I may be an accidental Rennie, but a Rennie I am all the same, and I miss it.

Even though my participation there has been tremendously scaled back, my mind has been drifting to a created village in Huntersville, NC, and all the performers and 'fairemly' that I see there every year. I have wished I could have a steaming mug of chai in my hand, trying to keep the excited wolfhound at my side walking calmly so I can drink it rather than wear it. I've missed the shouts of Good Morning from the vendor stalls, seeing my breath (and Bryn's) in the air, and the quiet beauty of the faire before the gates are opened and the tens of thousands of patrons stream through.

I have always loved that part of faire - the part where it's just us there, the way it would be if the grounds were a real, functioning village. The writer (and well-buried actor, if I'm honest) in me loves walking along, imagining that I'm my character: an Irish lass sent with an Irish Wolfhound as a gift for Her Majesty. I love the sway of my hoopskirt as I walk. I love the street performers and vendors already in character, addressing me as 'My Lady' and asking to pet the magnificent beastie at the end of my leash. 

She loves it too - though, in recent years, Bryn has been less apt to stay on a bed in the building we lovingly refer to as the Dog Barn, preferring instead to pull me out to the front to see the people. Ciaragh is the exact opposite - she is unnerved by large crowds and would happily stay glued to a dog bed all day if only the raised beds weren't the proper size for a greyhound and she finds herself slipping off of them onto the floor. 

But neither of the big faires where I work with my dogs happened this year, and the smallish local faire made the decision to close permanently. I keep forgetting how long it has been since one of my girls has surveyed her people from the joust platform in the Southern Kingdom (the Georgia Renaissance Festival) or taken that leisurely walk pre-cannon in the lanes of the Northern Kingdom (the Carolina Renaissance Festival). I forget until one of them noses her way into the guest room-turned-pandemic supply storage and happens upon my straw hat or a stray glove. They press their nose against it, wringing out the last smells of FAIRE, and then look up at me and wag. 

We're holding onto those last smells, the images like the ones above, and the lifelong friendships formed in the early morning fog, over mugs of chai and corset lacing, until we can do all of it again in person. Huzzah, well met, and on to the rest of October!

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