Summer’s heat has dissipated, and now a few more trees have joined my beloved but ill horse chestnut (brown from a fungal infection) in deviating from the deep greens of summer. It’s been a subtle change, but lighter greens, yellows, and other shades are starting to appear, and the young maples by the parking lot have already dropped most of their leaves, leaving them even more bare than the poor horse chestnut.
If that were not enough to herald summer’s end, there was this poor dead dragonfly, forever grounded.
On the first, JT and I went to Lookingglass Theatre for Lookingglass Alice. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was as charming as the cast of five plus crew could make it, with appearances by many of Lewis Carroll’s dodgy characters and by a stuttering nebbish named Charles Dodgson. Although the parlor seemed conventionally Victorian, the rabbit hole was an acrobat’s hoop, and so a modernized, yet true evening of Alice began. By the end, the little girl who chides her stuffed animals seems to have been transformed into a young woman — a transformation that seems more melancholic than joyful. As with Anne of Green Gables, I’m reminded of Samuel Clemens’ admonition in Tom Sawyer: “So endeth this chronicle. It being strictly a history of a BOY, it must stop here; the story could not go much further without becoming the history of a MAN.” To me, the history of children, with their lives and unknown and limitless possibilities before them, can seem more interesting than the story of adults in whom, whatever else may be unique about them, we recognize too much of what we have become — a known, familiar entity.
After J. returned from his eventful trip, we went to Bristol Renaissance Faire Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend. The first day’s clouds spat drops of rain at us randomly in defiance of my assurance that rain wasn’t in the forecast. I bought CDs to add to the collection I already don’t listen to and a DVD to replace the VHS version of The Adventures of Robin Hood. We watched some of the games, then checked out the Black Pearl (jewelry), where I wistfully thought about how much I’d already spent and the fact I don’t need more earrings. Still . . .
On the way out, we passed a costumed young woman saying, “Does no one want to deflower this girl?” (presumably a flower seller). I heard her; J. did not.
We made a mad dash to Apple Holler to get there before the 7:30 closing — and just made it. Rose took a shine to us, or seemed to, and strongly suggested we ask for one of her tables the next day.
On Labor Day, we set out a little earlier, arriving in time for the joust. I lost J., who was off buying pretzels, so I sat on the ground by the fence among the children — the only spot left. He arrived later and kept walking around. As seems to be my lot, I found myself in the section whose champion was the evil knight, Sir Morrick (sp.?) of Saxony. Even if he had not insulted us as “putrid sacks of meat,” we’d have known he was evil from the vivid purple scar running down his cheek from his eye and from his jet-black hair.
While Sir Maximillian couldn’t stay focused on the games (“I’m flirting with the queen!”), Sir Morrick won them, growing more unsportsmanlike and belligerent with each one until he slugged his squire, drawing blood from her face. (Maybe he was trying to give her a matching scar.) As I told J. later, I went to a joust, and a World Wrestling Federation bout broke out. The upshot was proclamation of a “joust to the death,” to be held later in the afternoon. Despite his vile loathsomeness (handsomely packaged though it be), Sir Morrick posed patiently for photos with fans after he returned to cool off his horse. Maybe he’s not such a bad guy after all.
Ray Pena and his raptors were next — a pair of adult Harris hawks and 3-1/2-month-old gyrfalcons. He also called out his 11-year-old pointer, who seemed loath to leave the shade of the pavilion, but finally plopped in the dust of the arena. It’s hard to picture her hot on the trail of prey.
If I remember right, a kestrel demonstrated mantling, which was a crowd pleaser. Pena explained, then demonstrated, the differences between hawks (slow flyers, catching prey on the ground) and falcons (fast flyers, catching prey on the wing). The female hawk caught the lure, while the male, as Pena said, “watched like a hawk.” The falcons were fabulous, swiftly diving at the lure and somehow not catching it on the first few attempts. Once rewarded, hawks and falcons tore voraciously into their freshly thawed meat, so it was amusing to watch Pena and his assistant smoothly but cautiously slipping the hoods back onto the highly aroused birds.
After watching the sledgehammer strength game, in which a thin, wiry man outperformed his brawnier predecessors, we returned to the Black Pearl, although I was just as determined not to buy anything — until I saw the sugilite earrings.
As she was fond of purple and intrigued by anything uncommon, my aunt Marietta loved sugilite. Once when the Library of Congress was closed to all except researchers, she went in to look up what little published information there was on sugilite. Among her gemstone necklaces she had one or two of sugilite, although it’s pricey as these things go. I couldn’t help myself — I bought a pair as a tribute to her. They were relatively inexpensive because they’re veined with copper and aren’t beautifully translucent, but they are a rich pinkish purple.
As we crossed the boardwalk bridge over the turtle pond, a young woman with a scourge offered “FREE BEATINGS!” to passersby. J. didn’t notice her, either.
After a cloudy start, the day had turned perfect, and so it was a lovely end to the faire (except for the loser of the joust to the death, presumably). Rose claimed us in the queue at Apple Holler, where we satisfied ourselves with more apple-themed food.
And so back to the free beatings so generously provided in the contemporary world.