Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Celebrating George Washington's Birthday in 2023

Happy Birthday to the  Father of our Country.
For 47 of his 67 years,  George Washington celebrated two birthdays...sort of.  The first was the date on which he was born in 1732,  February 11th.  
But wait,  some may ask—the 11th??  Wasn’t his birthday always on February 22nd?  
Not always.  
In 1752,  you see,  when George Washington was twenty,  Great Britain adopted the new,  improved calendar instituted by Pope Gregory the 13th late in the 16th century and proceeded to impose it on us as we were then colonies of Great Britain.  This newly imposed Gregorian calendar,  as it became known,  fixed the length of the solar year at 365 days,  to which was added one day every four years if said year was divisible by four  (i.e. Leap Year). 
The George Washington redware plate I picked
up at the Henry Ford Museum.
The switch to the Gregorian calendar from the old Julian calendar  (named for Julius Caesar)  was because the old calendar had become out of whack relative to the sun’s and earth’s cycles by ten whole days.  By 1752,  it was off by eleven whole days.  So those eleven days were simply dropped that year.  The day following February 1,  for instance,  was not February 2nd.  It was February 11th.  So George Washington’s old birthday on February 11th jumped all the way to February 22nd.
Although at first many colonial communities refused to go along with this,  George Washington apparently took the change in stride and,  from 1752 on,  accepted February 22nd as his birthday.  On the other hand,  he didn’t completely ignore his old February 11th birthday.  For instance,  in 1799 he attended a gala birthday party in his honor in Alexandria,  Virginia,  on February 11th,  writing in his diary that night that he  “went up to Alexandria for the celebration of my birthday.”
A few of the Citizens of the
American Colonies who celebrated
with us.
Eleven days later,  on February 22nd,  1799,  he celebrated his second birthday of that year which turned out to be the last of his life.  He died ten months later,  on the evening of December 14,  1799.
(The above came from THIS site)
So to celebrate the Father of our Country's 291st birthday,  a few of us got together on Saturday,  February 18  (sort of in between his two birth dates)  in our own commemoration.  Yes,  we are all people who admire what a great man Washington was - greater,  in my opinion,  than any president that followed - and therefore we felt this would be a fond and fine way to honor him.  That doesn't mean that I / we agree with everything he did,  for he certainly had his faults  (show me a human being that doesn't),  but even with his human faults and decisions,  he truly was a great,  great man.
So once again we gathered at the old schoolhouse in Eastpointe to celebrate the man that lead the Continental Army to victory and Independence against Britain's King George & his Regulars,  and then who became our nation's 1st President.  This year we did something a little different to help add to the air of authenticity:  at the request of Tony Gerring - head of the 1st Pennsylvania reenacting group,  and also the party's host - we did most of our celebrating by candle light.  It truly did lend a fine period atmosphere indeed.
And what a great opportunity to get back into our period clothing  (even though I've done so two other times so far this month of February)!
The celebrants on this February evening.

Aaron played period music on his hammered dulcimer.

Raise a glass to the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and
1st President of these United States,  George Washington!

Of course,  we had fine food...

...cream for topping...

...drink...including George
Washington's favorite,  Madeira...

...and some good conversation.

It was wonderful to see a few folk I've not seen in a while,  such as Jennifer and Amy.  I am very glad they have joined up with the Citizens of the American Colonies and now spend time in the 18th century.  
Jennifer & Amy raise a glass to the Father of our Country!
Jennifer commented that,  "I literally felt like we all took a trip to Williamsburg tonight!   (It was)  so much fun!"
It's good to have another place in time to visit now with Civil War reenacting,  unfortunately,  waning.
There were a few others from our Citizens group there who I do see quite often,  like Charlotte.
My time-travel pal,  Charlotte and myself.

Ken Roberts and Norman Gerring,  the minister,  were also involved in a deep conversation.

My son,  Robbie,  was entranced by the glow of candle light.
"One day,  Pops,"  he said to me,  "someone will invent an
electrical version of light.  You won't have to
dip candles anymore!"
"Not in my  lifetime,"  I replied.

Mother and daughter.

Myself and Jennifer
A different Jennifer

Tony,  our host.

Josh,  Amy,  and Charlotte

Enjoying a wonderfully tasty meal.

The schoolhouse,  originally built in 1872, 
was a fine place to have such a celebration.
As I did not have a Christmas gathering this year,  I'm glad Tony pushed for this celebration.  To do something of this sort in these bleak mid-winter days gives us the light to help us carry through into the warmer sunnier days of spring,  which isn't too far off.
Yes,  I do love the winter,  but about this time of year I look forward to the season of rebirth.

By the way,  did you know that I've met George Washington---twice?
While in Colonial Williamsburg I got to meet
the 1775 George Washington.

And,  then,  while at Historic Fort Wayne in Detroit I was able to be with...
...the 1780s George Washington.

And one day,  while I was visiting the Henry Ford Museum:
As commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War,  General George Washington usually did sleep and eat in the nearby homes of  well-to-do locals during the eight 
years he led the American military campaign.  But among George Washington’s camp equipage were tents,  this folding bed,  cooking and eating utensils,  and other equipment that he used when he had to encamp on the field with his troops.
Who is that in the mirror on the left??
In the photo on the left it almost looks like I am a part of the display of George Washington items,  some of which were around during his time,  along with a few that were made as a tribute after his 1799 death.
For the 2nd picture we see some camping gear used by George Washington in the 
early 1780s. 
Seriously---George Washington slept here. 
George Washington! 
President numero uno...!! 
If that doesn't get you excited,  I don't believe anything will!

For my friend Carolyn,  I would like to include this picture you see below,  of which is a combination of two separate photos to make a more cohesive single.  It was taken at an event called  "We Humble Ourselves - Turning a Nation Back to God,"  (2015)  which was a patriotic concert/ceremony featuring a symphony orchestra,  a choral group,  a drum and fife corps,  and living historians representing historical figures showing our nation's Christian heritage.   Attendees were encouraged to dress in Colonial or Civil War era clothing for the Event,  which many did  (Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were also there).
I,  unfortunately,  could not attend,  for I had prior commitments.  But,  Carolyn did,  as well as another friend,  Jeri  (who has sadly since passed away):
President Washington stands with Carolyn  (on the left)  and  Jeri  (on the right)  
at  "We Humble Ourselves."  
Yes,  this is the same George Washington who presents at Mount Vernon. 
With a little photo-trickery,  I was able to take away a modern parking lot background
 and replace it with the Giddings House,  which was built in the mid-18th century.
For the photo-trickery in the above picture I chose the Exeter,  New Hampshire house of John Giddings  (now reconstructed and restored inside Greenfield Village in Dearborn,  Michigan)  for the background of this photo because Giddings,  being a man of prominence,  was an elected statesman for several years,  and a representative just before and during the early years of the American Revolution.  He one of the most active and trusted supporters of the patriotic cause in the Legislature,  and he commanded a company of those who marched from Exeter to Portsmouth to support,  if necessary,  in the raid upon Fort William and Mary in Portsmouth Harbor in December 1774.  In 1775,  he was nominated for the important appointment of delegate to the Continental Congress,  but modestly withdrew his name.
As for my own research,  in the book  "Rolls and Documents Relating to Soldiers of the Revolutionary War,"  I found a Captain John Giddings under the  "Exeter Account."  
There is also a possibility that George Washington may have had some contact with a member of the Giddings family and perhaps may have even seen this house.  Though there is nothing documented of a Washington-Giddings meeting,  Washington was in Exeter in 1789 and that he most likely had dinner with a group of prominent citizens,  including the New Hampshire Secretary of State Joseph Pearson  (Giddings'  soon to be son-in-law).  However,  in Washington's diary entry dated November 4,  1789,  he indicates that he had taken note of,  and had an interest in,  the ship building activity in Exeter.  Newspaper accounts of the time do place Washington at Folsom Tavern just a few blocks from the Giddings' wharf.
One never knows...

History all around.
Birthday Boy!
So now we are celebrating the 291st birthday of the Father of our Country - whether Julian or Gregorian.  I think it’s ironic that as a country we don’t really celebrate either one of George Washington’s two February birthdays.  The closest we come is our celebration of Presidents’ Day on the 3rd Monday in February,  and that means also celebrating presidents we don't care for---poor presidents along with the great ones.
Ah,  but there are a few of us who know and do better.

Until next time,  see you in time.

To learn about Washington's last couple of days and of his Death,  please click HERE
A quick museum overview of America's fight for Liberty - click HERE
Flying Solo in Period Clothing - Colonial Ken Visits The Henry Ford Museum - click HERE

Thank you to Charlotte,  Jenny,  Jennifer,  and Norman for allowing me to mix their photos with mine.

~   ~   ~

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Experiencing Our Research - A Day in the Life at the Frontier Cabin: Winter 1773 - Candlemas

"If you could build up any muscle to be a historian,  I'd say it's the empathy muscle.  
Go out and do empathy exercises;  put yourself in their place."
David McCullough  (1933 - 2022  historian and historical author)
"We are tellers of stories,  we history folks.  Our decorative and utilitarian objects are not merely things,  but clues to tales of our past as a country.  We don't just purchase a lantern;  we investigate how it was used and the significance of the pattern of the piercing of the tin.
All of the looking back is also a looking forward as friends and families grow closer just as they would have in early America.  Make the right historical environment and let the situations and camaraderie unfold."
Tess Rosch - Publisher Early American Life Magazine


There's our 18th century home.
Nostalgia,  as defined by Mr.  Webster's dictionary,  is described as a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life,  to one's home or homeland,  or to one's family and friends;  a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.  That would mean nostalgia is a very personal experience then,  does it not?  And according to the above definition,  only those who actually experienced the time period first-hand actually have the right to feel an attachment to it.  However,  I once read that  "Nostalgia is portable,"  meaning,  as I see it,  that perhaps it can be possible to feel a sentimental attachment to a time period one did not personally live through.  Hmmm...but that's not according to definition - - how can that be?  If nostalgia truly is portable,  is it possible,  then,  that those of us who repeatedly reenact the past in an immersion sort of way experience these same nostalgic emotions?   I mean,  it's pretty obvious that I was not around during the early America horse-and-carriage days,  and yet I still have a sort of nostalgic feeling for those times.  Maybe it's because I have been actively participating for two decades-plus in the world of living history:  experiencing the sites and sounds and activities of the era of the mid-18th century  (and,  at other times,  mid-19th century)  while utilizing a strong attempt to accurately and authentically bring that period back to life,  if only for a weekend at a time.
I mean,  when one thinks about it,  if I added up each day I spend reenacting and wearing period clothing,  something along the lines of  80 days out of the year,  I am immersed in the past an awful lot,  aren't I?   (I sometimes feel I am in my period clothing more than I am in contemporary t-shirts & jeans).  
Living the colonial life in my own home.
And that's not including my regular visits to historic Greenfield Village,  Mill Race Village,  and Crossroads Village - all open-air museums.  So,  taking all of this into account,  plus given the fact that I have put together a  "historic"  room in my house depicting,  pretty accurately,  a time 150 years ago  (on one side)  and 250 years ago  (on the other side),  does this mean that I can actually feel a sort of Webster definition of nostalgia for times long past - real memories of a time before my time,  though it occurred in  my time?
The memories are pretty much the same...
Does that make sense?

We three time travelers...the past is  happening.
The following notation,  mixed with a few of my own thoughts,  comes from the book  "A Time-Traveler's Guide To Medieval England"  by Ian Mortimer,   and bears repeating here:  "As soon as you start to think of the past as happening  (as opposed to it having happened),  a new way of conceiving history becomes possible.  Reenacting and,  to an even greater extent,  living history,  allows us to to see the inhabitants of the past in a more sympathetic way:  not as a series of graphs and charts showing data of age,  race,  sex,  or occupations,  but,  rather,  as investigations into the sensations of being alive in a different time.  You can start to gain an inkling as to why people did this or that,  and even why they believed things which we may find simply incredible.  You can gain this insight because you know that these people are human,  like you,  and that some of the reactions are simply natural.  In being able to accomplish this sort of  time-travel allows one to understand these people not only in terms of evidence through research,  but also in terms of their humanity,  their hopes and fears,  the drama of their lives.                                               It is in this way we can be reminded that history is much more than a strictly educational process.  Truly understanding the past is a matter of  experience as well as knowledge;  it is a striving to make a spiritual,  emotional,  poetic,  dramatic,  and inspirational connection with our forebears.  It is about our personal reactions to the challenges of living in previous centuries and earlier cultures,  and our understanding of what makes one century different from another.  We know what love,  fear,  pain,  anger,  grief,  sadness,  and anxiety is like today.  Those in the past knew as well.  This is the human relation we have with our forebears."
To accomplish this sort of living history experience is to use,  utilize,  and include many different source materials,  especially primary sources  (no,  a Hollywood movie is,  by far,  the least  "source"  you would ever want to use).  
I know we,  as living historians,  are not perfect,  but we continue to try.
Our tradition of taking a selfie!
Yeah...we don't look too bad,  do we?
Now,  with all that being said,  how about we get into the body of this blog post?
For the 3rd year in a row,  a few of us who practice the art of living history spent a mid-February day  - an unusually warm,  spring-like February day  -  at the Waterloo Farm frontier log cabin,  in this year of our Lord 1773.  
Why 1773?  
Well,  when we first began using the cabin  (in the autumn of 2020),  we chose that year as being 1770 - exactly a 250 year gap.  Then the following year it became 1771.  Last year was 2022,  so our cabin excursions also moved up another year;  meaning for us it was 1772.  So this year of  2023,  our 18th century alter-egos are in 1773.  In this manner,  our time-travel trips remain focused chronologically - 250 years apart from today - and keeps us in line as we remain centered on home life of the period,  and that's where our concentration is focused on.  It is also a fine way to commemorate and celebrate the coming sestercentennial of the birth of our Nation in a differing sort of approach.  
Our background story is that my wife and I,  along with family members,  moved to the frontier in the summer of 1770 because of the  "Bloody Massacre in King's Street in Boston,"  which took place in March of that year.  As we lived only a short distance from Boston,  we felt the excitement and the strong presence of the King's soldiers was too close to home.  So,  as our story goes,  I gathered my wife and family and we moved to land in eastern Connecticut,  away from the chaos taking place in Boston,  where we can farm and live a peaceable life.
So here we are,  in our full third year here,  and life is grand; 
we are especially blessed,  for this year our local minister came to visit us.
Like the other postings I published in this cabin series  (linked at the bottom),  today's post is a documentation - a sort of souvenir,  you might say - of the occurrence of  our immersive experience,  culminating into one very amazing day.  It is always such a pleasure and an honor to be a part of  such a wonderful living history group as the ladies I participate with - Larissa & Charlotte. 
I am blessed.
And we had a couple of visitors this day.
More on that in a bit...
Being that it's winter,  a time of year that most historic reenactors in the north tend to shy away from any period activity,  we try to center ourselves on the specifics of this season.
Candle February??
The season for dipping candles was usually in early-to-mid November.  It must be remembered that candlemaking was not the fun craft then as it is in our modern times;  it was a backbreaking,  smelly,  greasy task.  But making candles only during the months of fall wasn't a hard and fast rule,  as notations in the diary of Martha Ballard shows us:
March 16,  1787
Clear.  mr Jonston & wife & Son Left here for home.  mr Ballard gone to Capt Sualls.  Jon gone to Joseph Fairbankss for hay.  Sally Peirce here,  mrss Chamln,  Savage, Bolton,  [Vinc]  Savage & Sally Webb also.  I made 6 Dos Candles.  have been at home. 
April 10,  1788
Clear.  I have been at home;  made 20 dz of Candles.  Hannah washt.  mr Ballard been at mr Pollards on Business. 
April 12,  1788
Clear.  Hannah is much Better.  Betsy Chever here.  I have made 28 doz of Candles; 6-1/2 lb of the tallow,  Cyruss.  mr Gillbreath Came here;  is unwell.  Theophelus & James Burton here also. 
Larissa joined in the fun... did Charlotte.
Artificial light in the 18th century was truly a luxury.  People were used to working by daylight while indoors,  so lighting a candle when the sun was up was rare.  It was customary for folks to move from room to room to get the most out of the day's light,  meaning generally candles were lit only during the nighttime hours,  and sparingly so,  due to the lengthy candle-making process.  But still,  according to one of the chandlers I spoke to at Colonial Williamsburg,  a typical middle class home in the 1750's could go through nearly 500 to 700 candles a year.  And that may even be a conservative amount for some. 
It was such a beautiful 50+ degree day,  a rarity on February 11 in Michigan.
Larissa would not be sitting on the ground if it were a typical February day, 
that's for sure!
One lesson I learned about candle comparisons:  the 12" long tapered candles I sometimes buy at the store burn nearly three times as fast as the 6" to 7" beeswax candles I dip myself.  One beeswax candle almost half that size can burn for five hours or more,  while the longer modern store-bought one lasts maybe two or three hours at most.
This was confirmed by Tom Redd,  a Materials Analyst for the Foundation in Colonial Williamsburg:  “Let us imagine we have four candles,  and each one is about three-quarters of an inch in diameter and they are all about 10 inches long.  They are in a room where the air is still.  A candle well-made of the best tallow might burn two hours.  A bayberry candle might last eight,  while a beeswax candle may burn for 10 hours.  The finest candle,  imported from New England,  would have been made of spermaceti wax.  Spermaceti is taken from the head of the sperm whale.  The spermaceti candle might last 12 hours or more,  and burn with a brighter light.”

Do you remember the flax we planted and harvested at the cabin a couple years ago?
No?  Click HERE to learn of that.
Do you remember when I processed the flax by way of my flax break,  scutching board,  and hackle so my friend Rebecca could spin it into linen thread on a spinning wheel?
No?  Click HERE
Well,  in the picture below you'll see some of the linen thread she spun and I can now use as candle wicking,  just as was done in the 18th century  (it was my fault the linen thread here was not rolled up proper and became all curled up - - the wax helped to somewhat straighten it out):
Experiencing our research~
Yes,  I am going to try and do what our 18th century ancestors would have done:
use linen thread as a wick!
Though the one wick on the far right was cotton wicking - not linen.
It was tough to keep the thread from curling up,  it was so wiggly.
But the more beeswax I applied while dipping,
the less bumpy the candles became.

Two candles fell off the stick,  but were able to be saved.
Here is my linen-wick candles.
Now to let them sit and cure for a few months,
then I can light them.  I'll do it at the cabin,
perhaps this fall.
No doubt our candles are hand dipped - not machine made or done by way of molds.  I'm not against molds,  I just need to perfect that way,  for my mold-made candles tend to burn down very quickly.

Charlotte as she looked from the inside of the cabin.
I also planned to make tallow candles this day,  as I had actually hoped to do last fall,  for tallow was the main source - main ingredient - used for candlemaking by the greater majority of farmers and frontiersmen of this time.
Alas,  I had forgotten to take it our of our cold cellar  (my freezer at home lol)  and so we used the ever-popular pure beeswax.
A few of  the candles we dipped.
A total of 26 were made - nothing like the dozens Martha Ballard made in one day.

I brought my flax break,  scutching board,  and a hackle,  for I did have hope of
processing flax on this day,  but time seemed to get away from all of us.

Larissa and Charlotte worked together creating a wonderful dinner meal
of peas porridge and fried cabbage,  along with beets and breads.

I find it interesting to learn about the early ability of man in harnessing fire and controlling its use for heat and cooking - and how it became the center of the community's activities.  Obviously I am speaking of  what could be perhaps a half-million  (plus)  years ago,  if the fossils found are  "correct"  in the scientific dating.  And once fire was able to be somewhat controlled by humans,  a far more complex social life took place.  The idea of a home-base,  around which a community could organize its life more cooperatively and efficiently than when permanently on the move  (nomadic),  was taking root for the first time  (taken from the book The Human Dawn through the Time-Life series TimeFrame -p.55). 
Larissa & Charlotte took a breather as the food began to cook.
I write this because it gives thought to the idea that even dating back to this time we can see that humans have spent much of their social time where the fire is  (or will eventually be):  the kitchen.  From those ancient days during the B.C.  era through to this very day in 2023 we are still  "hanging out"  in the kitchen,  where,  instead of the hearth we now have a stove.  And,  it seems,  more often than not,  our food is still cooked over a flame.   It happens in my home of today;  when our adult kids and young grandkids come over,  much of our time is spent in the kitchen.
It was also the same way in colonial times;  the hearth was the warmest spot
in the house,  as well as where the cooking was done. 
The food in the pots and the cider in the pipkin.
I am so very thankful for the opportunity to experience and enjoy
open-hearth food,  just as my 18th century ancestors did.
Of course,  our little cabin has only one hearth,  and therefore it is an all-in-one home,  for not only is it the kitchen,  but it is also the parlor and the bedchamber.
Larissa kept a constant eye on our food throughout the day.

I also needed wood for the candlemaking fire out side.

One thing I was excited about using was the  wrought iron  "double chandelier,"  made for me by my blacksmith friend,  Richard Heinicke.  It was based off an original from the mid-18th century.
Lighting one candle with another.

I really do like that our candles are all hand-dipped.
You see two candles lit here.  Unless there was a special occasion,  it would have been a rarity to light two candles at once,  no matter the time of day or night.  For most,  candles were sparingly used,  least of all during daylight hours.  This attitude was not unusual,  for it was a great luxury for many to have candles.  And with the bright sunshine giving the outdoors a clear golden glow,  I most certainly would not have lighted one candle,  much less two,  this time of day had we actually been in the 18th century.  But I was excited to use my new chandelier,  so I lit the two candles just before we sat down to eat our dinner meal.
And we had a special dinner guest - - - - so that was a good reason!
Dinner is about to be served!

Charlotte did the serving honors.
It's been said that what we do as reenactors is pretend;  that we are just adults acting like kids  pretending  to live in a time so long ago.
Yeah...I suppose one could look at it that way.  But such a comment or thought process is taken out of context and needs to be a lot.
Others,  however,  liken it to  'cos-play.'
No---not even close.
It's so much more.  
The local preacher was invited over,  for we had a special
request for him,  and,  thankfully,  he obliged.
More on that coming up...
The definition for Living History is an activity that  "incorporates historical tools,  activities and dress into an interactive presentation that seeks to give observers and participants a sense of stepping back in time.  Although it does not necessarily seek to reenact a specific event in history,  living history is similar to,  and sometimes incorporates,  historical reenactment.  Living history is an educational medium used by living history museums,  historic sites,  heritage interpreters,  schools and historical reenactment groups to educate the public or their own members in particular areas of history,  such as clothing styles,  past times and handicrafts,  or to simply convey a sense of the everyday life of a certain period in history."
Cosplay is a  "performance art in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific fantasy character.  Favorite sources include anime,  cartoons,  comic books,  television series,  and video games."
See the difference?  
It's a different realm altogether  (and this is not a knock against cosplayers...I'm just noting the differences).
Preacher Gerring says the blessing before our meal.
We,  as living historians,  work to bring back real history:  the visual,  the feel,  and the correct historical information,  as best as we are able to do.  We spend countless hours researching every minute detail of actual history,  including clothing,  accessories,  hair,  lifestyles,  furniture,  language.... so,  to some this may seem like pretending...but in reality we are so much more than that.
We blur time...and recreate,  as best as we can,  factual history.
We experience our research.
Yeah...we do make our mistakes  (and sometimes,  dare I say,  we even get a little lazy!),  but we usually try to put our best foot forward.
We also teach,  which is why we must be diligent about getting it right  (and refrain from the laziness).
So my thought then leans to how accurately am I able to show history.  I mean,  we may never be able to get it 100% correct,  but attempting to get there is part of the fun.
That being said,  back to our story - - - 
we who take part in the cabin experiences here are,  unknown to us,  leading up to what will be known in future years as the Boston Tea Party  (December 1773)  and the beginning of the Revolutionary War,  coming in 1775  (it's great to know the future,  eh?).  You see,  as I mentioned earlier,  our move to the frontier is tied to the occurrences of what leads to the fight for independence.
Sitting down to our dinner meal of pea soup,  fried cabbage,  beets,  breads...and hot cider.
This is real.  And it felt like we were there...

Being out on the frontier,  one never knows just what surprises may come along,  as we found out when we had an unexpected guest arrive.
I can say this was not a posed picture:  Charlotte was truly taken off
guard and felt true fear for a moment  (and,  luckily, 
Larissa had her camera ready at the right time).
For what Charlotte saw as she was filling a bowl:

...a member of the local Indian tribe stopped for a visit.
From what I've been told through the stories I've heard and even from a few diaries/journals I've read,  a visit from one or two members of the local native tribe was not unusual for folks living out on the frontier,  and rarely ended in a bad situation.  More often than not,  I've heard that visits such as these usually were expected and accepted to some degree.
He eyed and tasted the food upon our table...
Brian does his Indian impression out of care and respect in structure and in dress,  but he does not do their religious/spiritual presentations,  for that is something very personal to natives.  He married a native,  from the Ojibway Tribe,  and through her and other natives has been welcomed to take part in many tribal activities,  customs,  and reenactments/pow wows.  And due to the way he represents,  honors,  and researches their ways,  they have given him their approval to represent them historically,  which I find to be awesome in every respect.
The person who portrayed a local Indian is married to a
native and has only portrayed one in respect
and with historical accuracy. 

He has also researched the many ways natives and whites on the frontier have
 interacted with each other,  which added much to our experience here at the cabin.
He and others used to dress in this native manner during the French and Indian War reenactment anniversaries,  but they never portrayed a certain tribe,  just basic Woodlands Indian,  unless it was a reenactment of a certain area of  where there were large,  tribal,  affiliations participating.
I would love to have more American Indian living historians  (or their respected representatives)  take part in our events to help tell their story.

Thank you for participating in the way you did,  Brian.

Every February 2nd  there are many in our country who celebrates Groundhog Day.  However,  Europeans in earlier centuries and many of the American colonists during the 18th century celebrated the Candlemas holiday that same day,  before the weather rodent took hold.  In reading and researching this old holiday I have learned that long ago the celebration of  February 2nd - Candlemas - was a very religious occasion.  
And it still is,  for many continue to celebrate this holiday.
The minister came out to help us celebrate Candlemas.
Candlemas occurs at a period between the December solstice and the March equinox,  marking the 40th day after Christmas;  many people traditionally noted that time of the year as winter’s  “halfway point”  while waiting for the spring,  and celebrated the annual triumph of light/spring over darkness/winter.  It was the day when the blessing of  the year’s supply of candles would take place,  for candles blessed on this day were among the most powerful talismans   (or religious  "protectors")  available to ordinary folk in the Middle Ages,  and continued into the centuries following.  
Not nearly a year's supply of candles,  but we worked on
them diligently throughout the day.
Here in America,  the colonials did much the same as their European counterparts:  they also lit candles and held them during parts of the church service,  then brought them home.  They believed the lit candles protected the home during storms,  warded off evil,   and comforted the sick.
I wrote a blog posting about Candlemas and Groundhog Day and how the two holidays intertwined with each other.  And that gave me the  "bright"  idea to have the same done during our winter cabin excursion.  Initially we were supposed to be there the weekend before February 11.  However,  I felt congestion building up in my chest and thought it best if I didn't take part,  for the weather outside on that day was truly frightful---frightfully cold with snow on the ground!---and I didn't want to spend a full day in that type of weather and temperatures,  for I probably would have ended up with,  at best,  a bad cold,  or,  more than likely,  bronchitis or pneumonia.  Uh more hospitals for me!  So the ladies agreed to hold it back for one week,  which turned out to be as spring of a day as any day in actual spring!
Pastor Gerring blessed the candles
we dipped on this day.

Here is the prayer Pastor Gerring gave as he blessed our candles:

Lord Jesus,
You are the Light of the world:
we praise You,  and ask You to guide our steps each day.  Help us to love You and serve You faithfully,  and to carry our daily cross with You.  Bless + this candle,  and let it always remind us that You are our Light in darkness,  our Protector in danger,  and our saving Lord at all times.
Lord Jesus,  we praise You and give You glory,  for You are Lord for ever and ever. 
and then the reverend said in Latin:
Dominus Jesus
laudamus te et glorificamus te 
Domine in secula seculorum 
(Lord Jesus
We praise you and glorify you
O Further forever

Our own 18th century Candlemas celebration.
I don't believe I've see this done before.
I enjoy finding small period traditions that we can add to our experience.  As the title of this posting states:  Experiencing Our Research.
The Light at its brightest.
As the afternoon sun began to wane,  we were able to enjoy the increasing dark shadows inside the cabin:
A candle on the candle shelf

There came a point that we realized it was time to go.  
I had a candle  "douter"  (an archaic word for our modern candle  "snuffer"), 
though I am not certain that  "douter"  was the word used in the 18th century.

However,  I did snuff the candles on the chandelier with such an item.
As you can see,  though it wasn't night time,  the sun was setting lower.

Until finally,  the flames were out.
It was actually darker than what this picture shows.  My camera tends to gather all of the light it can and makes darkened rooms appear much brighter,  unless it is truly night time.

And here we have our 2023 - 1773 wintertime participants,  though,  as mentioned, 
with temps in the 50 degree range,  it felt so much like spring,  we can hardly call this
a winter experience.  Yet we lived the day as it would have been for us had this actually been 1773.  Well,  pretty darn close!

Experiencing our research indeed!

As we traveled back to the future,  Larissa took this beautiful
picture of the sun set.
'Twas a perfect way to end a perfect day as the horses turned into
motorized horse-power and our carriage turned into a Ford Econoline van.
This was another amazing time with an amazing group of living historians.  Each time we do our cabin excursions,  we never fail to  "experience our research."  Adding Candlemas and being visited by a Native American have both added greatly to our already wonderful historical reality.
This leads me to,  are you convinced that nostalgia really is portable?
Or perhaps there is also a sense of longing  as well...longing is defined as a strong,  persistent desire or craving,  especially for something unattainable or distant.
"Unattainable or distant?"
Because of  what I wrote in this post,  experiencing  a time long past has not necessarily been unattainable or distant,  has it?
And maybe...just maybe...I am  able to have a nostalgic longing or even yearning for times before my own time,  even if it's only through this type of experience,  because many memories would still be the same.
Maybe nostalgia really is  portable.
But I do get to go back home to my hot shower and warm bed when all is said and done.
What are your thoughts?

Until next time,  see you in time.

To read about our 2020 autumn excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 wintertime excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 springtime excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 summertime excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 summer harvesting of the flax at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 autumn excursion making candles at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2022 winter excursion at the cabin,  please click HERE
To read about our 2022 spring excursion at the cabin,  please click HERE
To read about our 2022 summer excursion at the cabin,  please click HERE
To read about our 2022 autumn excursion at the cabin  (Pioneer Day),  please click HERE

Besides my own pictures I would like to thank Larissa Fleishman, Norman Gerring, and Brian Dewey for allowing me to use some of their photos as well.

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