Monday, September 01, 2008

Conversations around the campfire

For the last 16 years my wife and I have been hosting an SCA camping weekend at Labor Day. A variety of reenactment and recreation activities take place including armored combat, archery, riding ( back when we had enough good horses) as well as all the kinds of things to take place at any sociable camp -- a lot of cooking and partying in particular. Llarger than usual craft projects sometimes take place. This time there was both pewter casting and Viking glass bead production.

Because this takes place on a long weekend, there is lots of time to talk to people. Here are two conversations that occurred.

I was talking to a friend about this and that when he started telling me a story about how in 1988 when he was 17, his father took him out of school and they crossed and Mongolia went to Tana Tuva in then Soviet Siberia to attend a Siberian throat singing Festival. It was one of those stories where a mature person recalls a formative experience of youth. a woman listening to the story eventually shared with the rest of us which she it had a striking experience in 1989 -- she'd been in Norway, heard what was happening in Berlin, and went there in time to help tear down the Wall with her own bare hands.

The next day, I told a third person about the Tana Tuva story and was just about to mention the Berlin Wall tale that followed it, when the person I was speaking to started telling his 1989 story. He had crossed China and the Soviet Union and was in Eastern Europe when it became evident that the old system was falling apart. His experience of that phenomenon was a ride with an East German who had come to Hungary with the specific purpose of escaping to the west -- Hungary's communist government had already taken down in section of the Iron Curtain. He went on at some length telling how it affected him to talk to this German who was a bundle of hopes and illusions and fears, for instance that he might never see his aged mother again, though his sisters might live long enough for him to see them.

There are many interesting and unusual people in the SCA, and conversations tend to reflect that. But this was really quite exceptional.

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