Yesterday, we went to the Living Traditions Festival. This is a great event not only for the cultures it celebrates, but for the amount of varied people it brings together. I get to watch them.Â Â Here are a few things I got to experience.
I saw Isaac Asimov. Well, he’s dead so it couldn’t have been him, but it was a dead ringer (cue nerdy laugh and insincere apology for the badly executed (snicker) pun). Except, he wasn’t wearing a shirt. He’d taken it off and stuffed a corner of it in his back pocket. It wasn’t pretty.
I heard this: “Negroes! We haven’t been negroes since the seventies.”
I watched a sundrenchedÂ coupleÂ pose for the camera. They were completely smitten with each other and she was pregnant.
Her thinned hair was pulled back to reveal a stout face, grayed eyes over a slightly bulbous nose and crooked teeth. A strong woman, she was, of Scottish descentÂ though there was no accent. She served me a meat pie. She could have done it 400 years ago.
“It looks like an ent,” I remarked of the remarkably carved staff. Its owner had been reading and pretty much ignoring the early trickle of festival goers. But he looked up at that and we both knew that we shared the love of a book.
All these people here were disturbing her sleep. She looked up around from her grungy pillow. This was her place. Who had planned the festival where she had decided to rest?Â Who were these happy people, staring at her? Go away.
Another homeless person, dirty and grungy among the crowd. HeÂ sat in a chair, watching the dancers in rapt enjoyment. Today, he hadÂ a free show.Â Â
Smithing is an occupation of the senses. The sound of the hammer on metal, the look of the hot iron, the acrid smell of theÂ burning coals, the drenchingÂ heat of the forge.Â Â Â It demands all of the smith’s attention. The experience is soaked in rhythm, in strength, in bending and yielding. I can’t help but wonder what kind of men this occupation turns out.
She was as delicate as her carvings: Tiny, immaculate, flowers and leaves in soap.
Brown curly hair framing a genuine smile and soul drenching blue eyes. He is sincere, but getting a lay is as far as he is thinking. Does the girl know that? Yes. She smiles back, flattered at the brief, wordless compliment, but hurries on her way. I see a wedding ring on her finger. Would it had ended differently, otherwise?
On the way out, my husband and mother-in-law’s conversation in Russian attracted the attention of another Russian speaking man. She caught his surprised interest, and the three caught themselves up in a conversation. Fussy baby, wants nursing and sleep, so I took the kids to the car. He fell asleep quickly, sweating in my arms from the heat in the car and exertion of nursing. IÂ got a blanket and spread it on the grass under a tree next to the car. Placed the little one on it and invited the kids to the more comfortable spot and proceeded to watch people some more – this time from far away. Singles and couples and families wandering to and from a festival of living traditions.