As I embark on my newest medieval adventure, the one that will be sending me around the south in the same manner as a pilgrim during the crusades, I can't help but be reminded of how lucky I am. I grew up as a child who dreamed of being a fairy tale princess and, for a too brief period in my life, I was as close to that life as anyone can ever get without the last name of Windsor or Ranier. I lived and worked at a castle being built right here in the US called the Ozark Medieval Fortress. Although I was not exactly a princess...the feudal system insured that I was merely an upper class peasant...I was allowed to learn and experience the life of a laborer in the 13th century. I also was able to share my experiences through a few blog entries posted on the Fortress web page. One of my favorites is shared here for you. I hope you enjoy it!
Living the life of a medieval citizen is something we do everyday at the Ozark Medieval Fortress. For most of us it has become almost a way of life as we pick up a bucket to carry water to water plants or mix mortar, or walk several times up and down the hill so we can communicate with the blacksmith or carpenter. In the 21st century we would probably groan at the idea that we couldn’t turn on the sprinkler, or FAX the carpenter with a sketch of the item we needed him to make. But here in the 13th century, its an easy transition. We are surrounded by a castle, and sheep, and campfires. The surroundings make us feel like we are there, in France, in 1226. Perhaps it is so easy for us because we know that at the end of the day we will be driving home in cars, into our environmentally controlled homes filled with wifi and Wii. But something happened the other day that made me realize there is so much more happening here than just role playing. We are truly experiencing.
The dilemma came as I was attending to our newest addition, a beautiful ram named Garçon. While talking to a large group of visitors, the donkeys and the horse came bounding up the trail much to the displeasure of Garçon. Frightened, he scurried around the pen a few times, found the lowest spot in the fence and quickly jumped over. Luckily, the horse came back around and Garçon decided it was safer on the inside and jumped back over. All was well...and it was all played out in front of our visitors. Later that day, I was adding string to the top of the fence to add height to it and hoping it would prevent my wonderful new ram from escaping. It was in the last hours of the day, the sun was setting and the fence had to be secure before I could leave. Once again the donkey comes trotting up the trail and stops in my garden to munch on the chives and to leave hoof prints all over the newly planted seeds! There I was, faced with a real medieval scenario. I was alone...and had to decide if I should save the garden from the donkey or the ram from jumping the fence. It was truly 1226. I had to make a decision that would have been an everyday occurrence, but that could easily affect how well I survived the winter. Did I have more seeds to plant after the donkey destroyed the beds or should I stay and finish the fence so the ram wouldn’t be frightened and escape again? Without the ram, would I have lambs in the spring to raise, shear and feed on? As if by magic the last of our visitors was walking up from the castle site. I hollered to him to please “shoo that donkey out of my garden!”. Without blinking an eye, the man waved his hands, shooed the donkey and all was right again in the Middle Ages. He continued up the trail, and I continued to mend the fence. We are definitely not just role playing here. We...our workers, our volunteers and even our visitors...are taking part in a rare and unique experience. Simply by being here, each of us is experiencing the magic of time travel.