So was the premise for Estrella War XXXIII as nobles, knights, and newcomers journeyed from miles around to gather in Arizona at the charming Schnepf Farms, raising pavilions in the shadow of arid desert mountains and settling in for a week of battle.
We worked into the night to have our gear set, and opened bright and early the next morn prepared to cater to all sorts of lords and ladies.
For those who’ve not been to an SCA War before, as I had not, allow me to entertain with the sights and sounds we experienced. The town criers would begin their rounds at eight in the morning, dispensing news for the day all about the campground. This announcement was never met with much enthusiasm–the herald’s work is a thankless lot at war, it seems, for it is often met with grumbles from the carousers of the night before.
From that point the camp would slowly stir to life, with shopkeeps lifting the sides of their tents ready to vend their wares and townsfolk beginning to wander through in increasing numbers. The proper sport of the day began at nine with a panoply of events to choose from. If one favors the bow or crossbow, archery tourneys are held all war long. The same can be said for the rapier, and of course one cannot miss the grand melee where fully armored combatants test their might.
For the Warriors that traveled with their valiant steeds equestrian courses were held throughout the week, as was hound coursing for those who came with their faithful companions. I half expected an event for falconers, and found myself disappointed when it was conspicuously lacking in the program. Ah well…can’t have it all I suppose.
Yet this was simply the martial aspect of war; in the SCA War is a time to cultivate the mind just as much as the body. The Collegium of Arts and Sciences convened at 9am sharp on a daily basis, providing a number of lessons from cordials to fletching to period costuming. There was even a workshop involving the history and polishing of amber; Alivanna brought back useful shop knowledge along with her gorgeous specimen!
Gradually the days would turn to nights and parties would spring up like the fires they lit all about us. Yet truly it was the warmth of the merchant stalls against the cool starlit sky that drew me. Live instruments and music, swords, leatherwork, garb, fiber for spinning and weaving…not to mention fine silver jewelry, of course ;)…It was enough to keep one’s head spinning around to the next gorgeous sight.
We met a great number of characters throughout the week, stopping by to check out our wares and chat. Together we laughed over personal comedies, discovered the perfect pieces to compliment regalia, and discussed the widespread use of the Pentacle in medieval European churches. A number of our pieces received compliments, and patrons were thrilled to find we do custom work. I anticipate a request or two for laurel medallions in our future. 😉
Eventually the week came to a close–as we had not competed in any events, martial or mental, we were not obliged to attend court and so were free to catch up on some desperately needed sleep, drifting off before the proceedings had even reached their conclusion.
As we bundled up and set our sights for home, the thank-you gift for vending at the event–a viking-styled rubber duckie–took the helm and faithfully steered our course. Two days later and we’re back home recovering from all the fun.