Ordinarily, this time of the year reenactors get together in great celebretory encampments all over the United States to talk history, smell good wood smoke, buy fine wares from historical craftsmen, and catch up on what everyone has been up to. History lovers have such a wide variety of special interests to bring to the table and in the living history communities especially, the variety is broad. Living history reenactors are often full time professionals in the trades, or we are teachers, doctors, librarians, artists or a myriad of other roles, but our common ground is a love of history.
Spring is the time to share about what we’ve researched over the winter, show what we’ve created or built, and to brag on new attire we have sewn. We talk of hunts, and purchases, new babies and the passing of old friends.
Like any close knit community, and believe me living history reenactors are a close knit family, we miss each other. We talk about seeing each other on Facebook and we call each other on the phone and we sit around in zoom and face time rooms showing each other quillwork and leatherwork and paintings …talking about when this will be over.
It’s hard… but we count on knowing that hard times pass. I have dozens of people that I only see in these settings but find myself extremely fond of. Some are brilliant and loving individuals, from all walks of life, and all capabilities, and all denominations of faith, and representing all of the peoples of mankind.
Unfortunately, the economic effects of this widespread illness may be the undoing of some small businesses in historical communities. In these new and unusual times of staying safe by staying away from each other, the living history communities cannot orchestrate large gatherings of camping historians (often a 100 or more tents) in a field or two. With events cancelling, the vendors in camp who have sown and hammered and created all Winter cannot now sell their wares to the other living historians. This is not just a hobby for them and these people do not have other professions. Living history IS their small business. Still they must pay their mortgages and buy their food just as any local small business owner we know must do.
It’s a helpless feeling to not be able to help small businesses in times like these. We find ourselves doing curbside pick up at our favorite restaurant knowing that it may help them sustain.
When you think of ordering online, I would encourage you to think about some of the small living history based businesses, artisans, and craftspeople you know and reach out to their websites. Look at what they’ve been doing and purchase directly on their secure sites. Help these historians who support themselves in a small business.
Today’s painting is a reminiscent little study, oil on canvas, of two of my friends sitting around a campfire at an event last summer. It is titled, “It was a good day, wasn’t it? “.