Beltaine Newsletter, 2010

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Beltaine Newsletter, 2010

Post by Comyn »

Guthrum and Comyn arrived together early in the afternoon on Friday and entered the traditional site. The path had been strewn with wood shavings so that the cart wheels would not get stuck in the mud that inevitably formed in the ruts of that track after every rain. The two unloaded the wood and stacked it between the two large oaks that dominated the center of camp. "This is magical wood..." Comyn offered, "I planted these trees with my father many years ago and I've heard that Hawthorne is prized by the Druids". Guthrum seemed unconvinced and Comyn imagined he was thinking that the proof of that would be in the burning. The job was soon done and the wood covered against the anticipated rain and each then set about the construction of their respective tents and tables.

Guthrum was proud to display a new tent whose design echoed in its circular shape and domed roof the roundhouses of home. With only a center pole and another shorter pole over the doorway, it provided a nice airy space and yet was easy to set up and pack away. He also raised a wall tent for the children. Comyn's larger square tent required more time, the 16 poles and heavy canvas requiring many ropes and heavy iron stakes though many men could easily stand fully upright within it. Soon after, Brogan, then Vollund arrived at the site to raise the Chieftan's large yurt with its sturdy walls and roofing timbers. The work seemed to take a toll on our Chieftain who settled heavily into a chair and was observed to breathe shallowly and with labor. As the wind began to blow with more force into the afternoon, pollen fell from the trees in waves giving to all the appearance of snow. Brogan felt his troubles were largely due to this assault of nature, but we were soon to learn differently. Sabha and Fiachra were also on site to help with camp setup but these four tents were all that would be raised for this year's feast. The weather was threatening and our friends to the North had decided to not risk the journey.

Those who arrived that first evening were offered of the 'Welcome Stew' which was brought by Guthrum and prepared by Sabha over the fire in the great cauldron. Huge chunks of chicken and tasty cut vegetables with wild rice swung boiling from the beautiful iron cooking tripod Comyn had procured from Gobae the smith. The fare provided a fortification against the cooler wind and possible rains which the Druid had forseen. The kitchen, though supplied with running water sprung leaks which Brogan attempted to stem by many means. The fires of Nomad would not remain alit, and the smiths were perplexed. Adding to the list of woes it wasn't long into the evening before our Chieftain began to worry that his breathing was worsening. It was soon agreed that Sabha should carry him by the swiftest chariot to the place of the medicine men to the north. The Clann attempted to divine the outcome and there was much worry among them. Late into the evening the gathered huddled together against the growing chill about the fire which was seen to burn well and without spitting or smoking and called a good omen by the Druid. The voices of the gathered occassionally rose in song, but as Comyn was cuddling one of his children in Sabha's absence he could not take up his instruments as is his wont. Sabha and Brogan arrived back late in the evening and Brogan, who felt much better after the ministrations of the medicine men prepared to return home to convalesce. Many Clannfolk and friends who had come to share a drink by the fire had by that time already left the site, and so the remaining Clann members took to bed.

The night was not cold, and only a light patter on the canvas marked the passing of a spot of insignificant wet weather. Since the spare canvas had been stowed in the Chieftain's chariot before his departure, Comyn offered Fiachra space in his own tent for the night and a quieter and more pleasant guest would be difficult to find.

The morning dawned with the promise of clear weather and for most of the day the Clann enjoyed that indeed. This was later attributed to the stoking of the Dagda by Vollund and others throughout the day. Sabha and Comyn's girls had not stayed in camp but arrived early bearing hard boiled eggs, bacon, and hash browns. The Bel fires were stoked and the spit made ready for the cooking of the beef and other dishes for the feast. Comyn played several games of Fidchel with the children then sawed upon his fiddle as a serenade to Vollund who tended the fires and the meat under some makeshift tarpaulins which they raised in case of rain. Everyone took some time to share in the wonderful day board provided by Eberwulf and Helska. A ring game suspended by a tall frame brought by Vollund was set in place by Guthrum for the enjoyment of the children who spent a long time attempting to master it. A keg of Vollund's 8 year old mead was offered along with kegs of F&G Brown Ale and home made root beer. Bosh arrived with his bass and there was some impromptu music with Comyn in the afternoon.

As night approached, the gathered Clann hastened to prepare for the feast and they set their wooden tables and chairs close together in the traditional space to build what our Clann calls the "great table". Soon colorful cloths and candles, plates and silverware, bowls and mugs were set in their places. The Druid called the Clann to remember the dead with a ceremonial offering and to mark that the gathering together marked the passing of yet another shared Beltaine. The feast consisted of a gooseneck of beef, carmelized onions, a dish of bacon and asparagus, pottage, and fresh breads with honey butter. As the wonderful fare was consumed the winds rose until the sighing of the wind in the branches overhead became much more pronounced. Comyn carved and stored away the remaining beef which was offered up freely to all as they left site. The fiddle and mandolin spoke briefly together in Comyn's tent after feast, but the order of the night was a seat by the fire where stories were soon shared. Aonghus told the tale of Connor Tent-Burner at Pennsic. Momus, Vollund, and Aonghus recalled some of the more famous Clann limericks which are carried strictly by oral tradition. The winds rose and it seemed that the fire was not able to keep the gathered warm enough as those who remained huddled closer and closer together as the night went on. Eventually, late in the evening only Comyn and Guthrum remained at the fireside in discussion. Both soon retreated to their warm beds and steeled themselves against the thought that one of the huge trees nearby might lose their battle with the wind and come to rest across them in the night.

The last day was glorious and chill. Breaking down camp began early and by the time Brogan arrived to fetch the trailer much of the work had already been done. Comyn enjoyed some brief time with Fiachra and Vollund over breakfeast but then it was straight to the business of cleanup.

Cleanup of site is always a lot of work - cleaning the cast iron, putting away all the tools and torches (buttoning up the trailer), breaking down the yurt and the tents, lugging back the hoses and putting them away, laying out canvas to dry in the field, packing vehicles, cleaning up garbage. The trailer left site at what might be the earliest time ever (around 12pm) with only one bag of garbage in tow. Because only four tents were raised we decided to lose the deposit and pay the per tent rate which turned out to be about $50 cheaper. Since Comyn and Guthrum donated the wood there was no outlay of cash for wood from the treasury this event. However, it was discovered that the gauges on the CO2 tank need replaced, and that Nomad's pilot light needs to be diagnosed and fixed. Piping needs repair or replacement as well, and the whole trailer needs to be painted/sealed again soon. A temporary pop-up shelter to store the trailer in (since it is now relegated to outside storage) would also help prolong its life.
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