Thursday, February 02, 2012

Groundhog day - time and again

Happy Groundhog Day.

That Bill Murray movie is one of my all-time favorite movies. I've probably watched it more than any other movie, except maybe Princess Bride.

The theme of blending past and present is one of my favorite concepts. As a renaissance re-enactor and vendor, people frequently asked questions like, "Don't you wish you'd been born back then?"
My answer was always some gentle version of "Heck no!"

I love the old ways. I am passionate about my sheep. I find peace in spinning their wool, dyeing yarn and weaving beautiful things.

I love studying wild edible greens and nibbling on chickweed or discovering that lamb's quarter is sweet even in August. I can't even describe the satisfaction of growing dye herbs and dipping a bright colored skein up out of the magical steaming dye pot after I shepherded the creation of everything that went into making that yarn.

And then I love sitting down with my laptop in my comfy chair and writing my experiences here!
I appreciate being able to research growing plants or sheep ills on the internet. I never had much use for computers until the internet became publicly accessible. Then, suddenly, I had a whole research library at my finger tips. I don't know if the internet, hot running water, or refrigeration would rank as my favorite parts of modern life. They are all right up there, along with the ease of travel. I've read many diaries from around the time of the American Civil War; accounts of the Crusades; and read historical fiction written in the late 1800's. Human beings have always traveled, but now it is so easy to go long distances.

Speaking of reading, "Time and Again" by Jack Finney is one of my very most favorite books. I've read it almost as many times as the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. I love books about the romantic concept of time travel. I just read Stephen King's "11-22-63 A Novel". It was a most excellent story about what might happen if you go back and change one of the big watershed moments in history. The Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon is one of my guilty pleasures. A Scottish time travel romance, it crosses modern and revolutionary American time lines in a way that keeps me reading, and finishing, these books.

That's a long way around saying there is certainly an element of fantasy and wonder in the blending of past and present. It requires a belief in the constancy of some things and a suspension of disbelief on the part of people participating with you. But that doesn't mean it's not real. I am really a shepherd. I've had sheep and goats since 1979 and other livestock before that. I was really up three times last night with the new bottle baby lamb and I really am weaving a thick, soft rug out of Mouse's fleece.

I just need to figure out how to communicate this blended reality to other people, both in my work and in my personal life.

The whole premise of the Ozark Folk Center is perpetuating the music, crafts and herblore of the Ozarks. We learn from the past and pass it on to the future. We live, make and do these things in order to keep them alive. We share them with anybody who takes the time and trouble to travel through these hills to visit.

We are real and we do these things from the past here and now, in the modern world. So how do I answer when someone gets in my face in the park and asks, "What are you supposed to be?"

I'm not "supposed" to be anything. I am me and that's pretty fantastic. And all the other folks in the park are their own wonderful selves, too. And I just need to figure out how to communicate that so visitors, and potential visitors understand it.

That's my goal for this month of February. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment, or give me a holler.

Happy groundhog day!

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