Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ramblings...

Here are things that I have been thinking about of late. Nothing earth-shattering or anything...just thoughts bouncing around my head...

People frequently ask me why I go to Greenfield Village so often. I go there around every two weeks or so - sometimes more, sometimes less. Not that I have to give an answer, but I will give you a few reasons here (in no particular order):

1. It's my place of solace; it's where I can go and clear my head and de-stress myself. You might do something else, maybe go fishing or to the bar or watch TV or even read a book. I'm glad whatever you do works for you. Surrounding myself with history is what works for me. 


2. I like the people that work at the Village. I consider them friends and, though we really can't visit while there (they are working, after all), it's always good to be among friends and say hi to each other. Sometimes I will just stand and watch as they go about their historical business, whether plowing the fields, shearing sheep, cooking and/or eating a meal, spinning, or even washing clothes. It's just so nice to be around friends with the same mindset.


 
3. There are great photo opportunities. 
Um...let me add some emphasis to that: there are great photo opportunities. At least, to me.

 
5. There is always something different and seasonal happening nearly every weekend. Weekends in April and May you will see plowing, harrowing and planting. Certain weekends in May they shear sheep. And so it goes through the summer chores, 4th of July celebration, old car shows, a Ragtime fair, fall harvest - including candle dipping, wool dyeing, threshing, and the harvest itself - and into the Christmas season.
My big complaint is the Village isn't open during the winter time to show maple sugaring and other winter chores and activities.
Plain and simple, I always learn something new each and every visit and at no time am I bored. 
 
6. It's historical - - need I say more? I never tire walking amongst 300 years of history.
 
There, now you know why I visit Greenfield Village so much. 
It really does help me to clear my head.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We had a very tough winter throughout the U.S. this past year. Here in southeastern lower Michigan, winter 2014 was one of our toughest in recorded history - we broke the snow amount record that was set way back in 1888.
Here is the way the news put it on April 15th of this year: 

Detroit snow record: A spring storm broke Detroit's 133-year-old record for snowfall totals: This winter, Detroit got 94.8 inches of snow, topping the previous record from 1880-1881 by more than an inch.

And I loved it.
"Doo doo doo lookin' out my front door!" (Thanks to CCR!).
The beginnings of another snowstorm. I believe we ended up with only 6 inches on this February day.

Oh yeah I did!
And, to be perfectly honest, I am dreading the onset of the miserably hot and humid summer coming up around the bend. I absolutely cannot stand the high heat and the humidity of July and August.
It's so much easier for me to warm up than to cool down.
You see, we don't have air-conditioning in my house - we can't afford to have it installed. We also can't afford the high monthly bill that would be attached to it.
Window air-conditioners?
Yeah...we have a couple of them. They work fair as long as you keep them running all the time. Then our electric bill skyrockets.
So...spring and fall are actually my favorite temperature seasons, especially fall (less severe weather that time of year and better food to boot!).
So, what does all this have to do with history?
Well...nothing except the fact that the warm weather months is the time of year I do the majority of reenacting. Yes, even when it's blazing hot.
In fact, a couple years ago we celebrated the 4th of July at Greenfield Village when the temperature made it up to 101 degrees - and it wasn't even an official event!
Picnicking under the shade of a weeping willow on a 101 degree day while wearing the clothing of our 1860's ancestors.

Yep - we're diehards, that's for certain.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Speaking of the 4th of July, this solely American holiday is quickly becoming a favorite. I've always enjoyed it for the same reasons so many others do: a day for fireworks, barbecues, and hanging out at the beach. Lately, however, I have really been taking its meaning and history to heart. Similar to what Memorial Weekend has become for me due to my Civil War reenacting, the 4th of July needs - absolutely needs - to have its true meaning of declaring us free from the tyrant King George and England brought back to the forefront.
By the way, to celebrate its significance with the fireworks and beach and barbecues and hanging out - well, even John Adams approved of this sort of observance in a letter to his wife Abigail: "(The signing of the Declaration of Independence) ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."
But we must remember what we are celebrating. 
In detail.
I'm so glad I raised my kids to understand and engulf themselves in American history, especially early American history, in a time where the reasons why we became the United States are not being taught as fervently in schools as it ought to be.
That's why I had to teach them. And then they took further research upon themselves.
Makes me proud.
(Don't even get me going on the historical revisionism that's so prevalent in those so-called facilities of higher education.)
Reading such books as what I have listed and linked below has helped to revitalize my almost lost sense of American pride:
Liberty! by Thomas Fleming
The Declaration of Independence - A Museum in a Book
The Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution by Benson Lossing (first published in 1852!)
1776 by David McCullough
Signing Their Lives Away  by
Note that these books are centered on the American Revolutionary War.
I enjoy reading history in a you-are-there fashion and like to put myself in the mindset of those from the past. The books listed here are along these lines.

Celebrating the 4th of July at Firestone Farm




We have a pretty busy reenacting schedule ahead this year. Mainly from mid-May until the end of the Christmas season I will find myself in period clothing quite often, at times weekly but most times bi-weekly.
The first full weekend in June I will be doing something I've never done before: I will be time-traveling between two different centuries on the same weekend. I will spend June 7 in the 1860's at a wonderful little event in small-town America - Dexter, Michigan (click HERE to read about a previous adventure in Dexter).
Then, on June 8, I will don my 1770's clothing and venture out to the Colonial Days event at Historic Fort Wayne in downtown Detroit. Although on my own (with a couple of friends) I've dressed colonial at Greenfield Village this past April, the event at Historic Fort Wayne will be my first actual 'coming out,' for I will be with many other actual reenactors of that era, which I've not done before.
I'm a bit nervous but very excited as well.
And it will be interesting to jump between two periods in time separated by 90 years in two days, and then come back to 2014.
Or...will I actually be in a sort of quantum leap situation, bouncing from one era in the past to another...? Hmmm...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Playing with real buildings:

This photo is a composite of 11 different pictures that I took at Greenfield Village in my attempt to make a colonial village scene.
Now, it's pretty obvious that the building on the left is from the 19th century and not the 18th, but I wanted to include a tavern in the mix.

It’s not a perfect composite, I know, but I sure had fun working on it.


Here is (mostly) the same picture from above - - notice anything different?

Yep, that’s Independence Hall you see in the background.
Well…not the real Independence Hall, but as close to an exact replica as one can find. It’s actually the front fa├žade of the Henry Ford Museum located on the same grounds as Greenfield Village.

I love working with my Paint Shop Pro photo program.
 
Well, thanks for stopping by and visiting for a spell and allowing me to ramble on.
We'll see you next time...












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