Sunday, September 27, 2015

Greenmead 2015: Making Lemonade

What do you do when life hands you lemons? Well you make lemonade of course! What happens when life hands you 10,000 lemons in a short time? Do you make several batches? Where do you store them? How in the heck did you acquire so many lemons?
Alright kids, start hauling those lemons!
Photo by Ken Giorlando

I'd say the past year has been 10,000 lemons for me. I don't even know what to do with them. Even with my Grandma's peaceful departure from this earth, it has been a good run (she agreed with that sentiment through the end). The Civil War reenactment at Greenmead this past weekend was a lemon that I hungrily picked for my lemonade, perhaps a bit more than I could fit in the pitcher. Because I was so sick for this event.

It started as a cold from a Warrior Dash event that I ran last weekend in Grand Rapids. Sore and tired, I hobbled through the week. I prepared for Greenmead in my customary fashion: the night before. By then I thought I felt better. I had no time for sickness. The organizer of the event wanted me to attend as a vendor(she is awesome), and to be honest, I rather like dressing up for the weekend. In my "better" moments, I decided to play numerous games of soccer Friday night. First mistake.

By Saturday morning I was tired, but determined. After all, the sickness had passed! Time for mistake number two; I ran all hither and yon at the event, instead of resting. A more prudent Kristen would have at least rested in between visits. Nope! And then I followed that mistake with a later dinner with friends. Strike three, you're out!

I practically crawled out of the "carriage" on Sunday, feeling terrible despite the copious amounts of cold medicine in my system. Since it is a newer (but still good) event, I didn't have as much foot traffic in my shop. I limped through the tear-down process with considerable help. There are people who would have called this event a wash, and chided me for spending all of my spare time reenacting. In some ways they are not wrong-I need to take better care of my health. Resting is a priority after illness. And yet...this weekend gave me a historical healing, one that digs deep in the soul. 

Let me explain.
During my Friday setup, about four people immediately recognized my lack of health, and jumped in. Unfolding tables (thanks Nick), holding a tent pole, moving boxes...helping is in our culture, but they recognized my "extra" need, and stepped in! In this moment I was reminded of how caring this community can be. I would be further impressed.

There is a family in my reenacting unit, one with a lovely gaggle of children. I've watched them grow over the past five years. On Sunday, the day I felt the worst, they decided to accompany me under my tent fly. And by accompany me, I mean sprawl out over my rugs. I watched one aspiring engineer take over my bead loom (learning a skill in 10 minutes that took me a few hours). Little fingers brought me a filled glass of "lemonade" every so often. We beaded bracelets on the ground next to a deceased mini-soldier, who only awakened after gentle prodding. At one point we rushed to get ice cream at the general store. I'm pretty sure foot traffic wouldn't have had room under the fly anyways!
We're learning here. Come back later.
Photo by Darlene Lum

I wouldn't trade those moments for the world. One day I'll chuckle with a grown engineer about his moment of beading. I'll watch a mother bring lemonade to her own children. A studious college professor? An artist? Even though my head felt stuffier than a lecture on grammar, I saw the potential growing around me. I must have looked tired, but I was so happy to have them with me. They reminded me of the reasons that I started reenacting in the first place.

Lending a table. Waiting for me to finish my stew with a cup of tea. Letting me sneak that cookie (this actually applies to two different people!).  A borrowed dinner triangle. The goodbye hug despite my sickness, then the admonishment for me to take care of myself. Ten little hands helping pack my car. I drove home exhausted, but elated.

And in the end, no amount of money in my business can pay for any of that. I'm a reenactor at heart; this past weekend revitalized my love of living history. At its worst reenacting can be a mash-up of politics, scam artists, and insults. This weekend I saw it at its finest. My only hope is that all reenactors can experience the awesomeness that I felt at Greenmead this year. 
A moment of reflection
Photo by Ken Giorlando

With that, I must end this post. Laundry needs laundering. Pets need petting. I probably should get to bed at a reasonable hour if I plan to survive the work week. I'm oh so tired. After all, I've been busy making lemonade! 


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