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December 2, 2007
I'm sitting here in the dim of the house listening to Bing Crosby, the dog snoring while snow lazily flurries about outside finally feeling that winter is well on its way and the holidays right behind.
Early last week I sprung the idea of going to Western Mass to visit my mother and attend the SCA Yule event for the area Barony - Bergental. After agreement, I then approached my mother who was suffering from a lack of housecleaning assistance since the summer but she still welcomed our visit. What a weekend it was - and I spent most of it in a kitchen:
Best that I can recall, I haven't been to an SCA event since Coronation held at the same place - Trinity Church in Springfield, MA. While it's nice to do events on my own, I don't like leaving Kirky to entertain Will all day on a weekend when she could use both a break and rest as well. So I haven't really been to any other events because of this. The location would ideally be kid friendly or otherwise be outdoors allowing for plenty of room for him to be physical. Then he naps better and doesn't get antsy and cranky. I don't believe in bringing him to events and "inflicting" him on others and am overly conscious of how he behaves around others. However, as I continue to tell everyone, he spoils us with his good spirits and behavior.
With Bergental Yule, I knew there would be activity outdoors as well as places for him to run around. There was also children's activities to some degree and Lady Henna's son also entertained Will as he has for last year's Yule and Coronation. That allowed my mother to be playing music, Kirky to help with gate and me to be in the kitchen without worry though available should Will need our attention. He's growing up so fast.
I've been to about 8 events since I started last year at Carolingia's "Falling Leaves" but I still continue to feel very new. I am thankful to those who have endeavored to make me welcome.
Anyway, we arrived in Springfield late on Friday night as I had somehow scheduled a dental appointment that late afternoon in Boston after having the day off. The reason I "allowed" myself to go to Yule at the last minute was because I did laundry and cleaning before I headed out for the weekend.
Will woke up around 4:30am due to unfamiliar surroundings so getting up "early" wasn't an issue. We arrived at the church around 8am and I presented myself to one of the co-autocrats - Lord Detharlion. We started setting up merchant tables and Kirky joined in. I went outside in the surprisingly frigid, windy weather to help a book merchant carry about 30 boxes and crates of her wares up two flights of stairs.
Let's just say I need to make a doctor's appointment to get my asthma medication re-proscribed. Between the "athletic" induced through carrying heavy objects, cold inducing frigid temperatures and weight inducement....I was hurting. So I "retreated" into the kitchen for a breather and offered my assistance with the staff breakfast. While I was there, I figured I'd stick around and see if I could help with feast.
I did some dishwashing for breakfast and the dayboard (lunch) crew and found that would be an easy task I could keep up for the rest of the day. I added in a few prep tasks - defatting and cleaning out 10 geese, washing grapes for the stuffing, cutting oranges etc. But it appeared keeping up with dishes the prep team was using seemed to be the most valuable. I tried to keep a turnaround time of 1-2minutes on the knives and cutting boards.
The church had a professional kitchen dishwasher - looks like a big metal box on top of the sink area. However we just used it for sterilization and I had a big sprayer to get food particles off. Things really took off around 4pm and I think I stayed at the dishwasher for the next 3-4 hours straight.
Towards the end of the 2nd remove I found my energy plummeting, unable to keep up with the influx of dishes and not properly understanding expectations on turnaround - I think I tried to go far faster than I needed to and also was doing drying myself up until the 1st remove was finishing.
I finally, (somewhat ashamed), told the kitchen manager and her apprentice stepped up and cruised actively and quickly through the rest of the meal and cleanup at the dishwasher. I was truly amazed (and thankful) for her energy and speed.
I limped home a physical wreck livened by positive words from the Baron as I headed to my car and hit the bed as soon as I got back to Mom's. Well, after some advil and chatting.
It was an incredibly wonderful, satisfying, and fun event. Some folks have warned me about balancing participating and working - which I agree with to some extent: burn thyself out and the enjoyment may wane. Can't have that.
I did acquire a seat to the feast nonetheless and found time to sit with my mother during the 2nd remove and 3rd remove (I wanted to try some of the goose I helped prep) if not to save my body for a little while longer.
But the people in the kitchen - I knew I was in the presence of some incredibly sharp cooks - many of them from a group known as Compaignie des Cuisiniers. They were funny, smart and constantly offering scholarly advice regarding methods of prep and cooking - a wealth of humor and knowledge making the working in the kitchen an event in and of itself. I hope to find myself working with these folks again soon.
My next event will be Quintavia's Yule next Sunday afternoon after a weekend of helping Kirky bake her 80 dozen + cookies as gifts for friends and family.
And for those who were curious about my previous post, I simply wore a black longsleeved shirt, black slacks, and black clog-like dress shoes underneath the bliaut/tunic and all was well. Aside the fact from waiting too long to ask for an apron and getting wet and dirty. Need to check wash and care instructions with the maker and consider some basic kitchenesque wear that I can throw in the washer/dryer if I'm going to do this more often.