14 October 2013

Martin's Station on Wilderness Road

Dear Readers, this past weekend was the autumn encampment at Martin's Station near Rose Hill, Virginia, just a few miles from Cumberland Gap and Kentucky. The weather approached ideal which enhances any event of this sort. Many re-enactors came from far away to take their roles and interpret 1775 on the frontier to school groups, tourists and inquisitive locals. Friday is when the schools bring their students on field trips; with the elimination of travel budgets, no Kentucky or Tennessee school districts participate any more, and the Virginia schools are nearby. The number of students brought to learn about the frontier has been more than halved as education budgets continue to be slashed. Now most groups are private schools or home school cooperatives.

Saturday is the primary day for adults and families to visit. Some arrive on Sunday but by noon many re-enactors are already on the road home, still many hours away. To the right you may observe the Artillery Sergeant educating tourists on the care and use of a 'grasshopper' cannon such as was in use at the fort (one of a pair) in the 1770s. Every hour there is a firing of this cannon with but one-quarter of the regulation charge and yet it is enough to rattle the wits of all present. It is not easy to imagine how it roared when fed a full charge of powder & shotte.

 Thanks to David Wright's suggestion some years ago, Mr. Fuzzy has always pitched his tent in the hunters' camp, wherein the two finest camp cooks of the modern era create succulent dishes over the hot coals. Below is one of those great talents, enjoying a brief moment of respite whilst the lunch cooks. These two men are truly Iron Chefs as all cookware is cast iron.

The other outstanding chef prepares the 'big meal' inside the fort where tourists can observe method and technique. It is amazing how few questions are asked. Below you will view Chef Two (on the right) and his comrade in musical duets, Bertie's Son (on the left). These gents have hundreds of period songs and music at their fingertips/vocal chords, and each night perform to small and extremely appreciative audiences of re-enactors long after the public has returned home. Their music sets the ambiance for all the others in a manner so subtle and deep that for Mr. Fuzzy, it is one of the most important activities present.

This year, three ladies of the fort labored to transform one of the rude settler's cabins into a tavern for the evening, serving cookies and hot cider whilst the duo (left) performed their magical spells of 18th century music and song. This transported all present through a temporal portal into the 18th century for a few fine hours. Thank you, Sirs, for your crucial ingredients in the weekend transformation.

This was the first time for the one-night tavern and it was immensely enjoyed by all present. It is sincerely hoped this becomes a fixture of the weekend event. Mr. Fuzzy thanks and congratulates these fine ladies for their endeavors which significantly enhanced the experience for all involved.

It is nearly impossible to explain the bonds between the individuals who constitute the family of historical re-enactors but the ties are deep and strong throughout the year, not just on the occassions when they come together at an historic site. Moreover, amongst the Captain, Sergeant, Corporal and some long-hunters there exists a further, deeper, stronger and more ancient bond, one which Mr. Fuzzy shares with them. The outpouring of love and support was the strongest tonic to cure the situation in which he has been involved of recent. Mr. Fuzzy appreciates all the affection & advice proffered. May the Creator bless you all.

07 October 2013

arty images

Dearest Readers,

As Rocket J. Squirrel used to say, "And now for something we hope you really like."

In the hundreds of photos posted over the last five years on this blog, most have been rather straight documentary images. Mr. Fuzzy also creates images that began as photographs and have endured substantial manipulation to achieve the look desired. A few will be posted for your edification and hopefully, your viewing pleasure. In order to appreciate the fine points, it would be best to enlarge the image. Criticism that will aid in refining the images and approaches will be appreciated.

All four images were made on the Sunday Drive. An enjoyable and productive time.

05 October 2013

More days in the country

Wednesday a friend took Mr. Fuzzy to lunch at the local cafe. As the last bits of Southern comfort foods were devoured, he inquired if I had an hour of free time. To be truthful, I did not, but the deaths of thirteen friends this year has taught the lesson of not missing opportunities to enjoy the pleasure of a friend's company, thus Mr. Fuzzy said "sure."

The friend is in his late seventies and although not a native of Floyd county, has spent 50 years here, and knows the roads, landmarks and people as well as anyone alive. With him at the wheel, we motored off to the far southeastern portions of the county where he thought the fall colors would be best. As usual, he was correct. Even at the lower elevations, the tree leaves were considerably more enveloped in their autumnal finery than on Stratheden Farms. The pattern was somewhat unusual in that dogwoods, gums and maples have reached their climax whereas other trees have yet to display a single coloured leaf.

Knowing well of Mr. Fuzzy's interest in history, the tour's primary goal was to introduce him to some of 
the county's earliest cemeteries, all active before 1800, some with Revolutionary War veterans, some with War of 1812 veterans, and probably all with Civil War veterans. Old cemeteries in Floyd county are generally very well kept, in some cases because direct descendants still dwell within walking distance, in other cases, simply due to respect. Mr. Fuzzy was taken to an unusually derelict cemetery, hardly visible amongst the trees and ground cover. The headstones were mostly home made, some nothing more than obelisk shaped field stones, some with reversed letters, and misspelled names. Out of dozens of stones, only one seems to have been commercially manufactured. Visually it was all stunning and Mr. Fuzzy's camera was worked hard. Most were of the same family name, one still found in the county; it must be wondered what happened that this sacred ground was deemed unworthy of maintenance by succeeding generations and neighbors.

The route for returning to town was delightfully circuitous, based on gravel lanes completely shaded by trees, all visual and sensual delights.The blessings of good friends is with Mr. Fuzzy every day and he is thankful.

Mr. Fuzzy wishes to thank friends from near and far who have offered support regarding a recent issue. He is especially grateful for those who live far away who have volunteered to come at their own expense and testify if necessary. You have taught Mr. Fuzzy new and valuable lessons about the power of friendship.