bardic general SCA

Wars of the Roses 2019

We got back late last night from Roses, and boy, is our everything tired. We’re a bit under-slept (which often happens, but a couple of unforced errors on my part made it worse than usual), yet at the same time my heart feels energized and refreshed, and my spirit is lighter and clearer than it’s been in a while.

In the SCA, the idea of going “home” to an event is bandied about a lot, and I’ve seen my share of backlash posts from people who object to the idea of an SCA event, particularly a camping event, as their home. Your mileage may vary. But returning to Concordia of the Snows’ big start-of-camping-season event (hosted by the Shire of Glenn Linn) really felt like a homecoming this weekend. The Albany area is generally a 2-3 hour drive for us, so we get up to the Barony less often than we’d like, and there are places closer to us that probably would welcome us and offer opportunities to do things we love to do…but ever since our first Roses six years ago (referenced in the opening verse of “Concordian Soil”, this has always been a place where we felt we really fit. And the Barony took the opportunity to remind us yesterday that the feeling is indeed mutual.

None of us had any big plans coming into the event–I meant to offer to teach a class, but I had been distracted and never got around to actually putting the offer forward. I realized I was looking forward to that, to just being at the event, having no fixed plans (other than of course the Bardic circle and War Point competition Saturday night), and spending time with people as the opportunities arose.

Looking back, I realized that I was never bored–I was mindful of being in relation to others. I took the time to apologize for some mistakes and slights and let people know that I cared about them and our relationship enough to clean up any misunderstandings. I like to talk (have you met me?), but I also made space to listen, to people I had known a long time, some I knew very casually, and some I had just met. The result was an event with a very organic flow, full of connection and warmth.

It was a joy to spend more time with our (now very) close friends Agnes and Devon. The four of us were able to connect as an operating unit much of the time (Spencer played in his friend Charlie’s tent most of the event), separating to explore different things than coming back together and catching up. Some other connections I want to acknowledge and express gratitude for (though barely a sampling of the riches):

  • Her Royal Highness Margarita De’ Siena, who came to the event on her own, still clearly in the full delight and flush of being only three weeks into her tenure as Crown Princess. I was excited to learn she was at the event and to introduce myself, because in addition to being our newest royalty, her Highness has the distinction of being the first Eastern royal I personally know of who is already a career bard in her own right. In her time in Æthelmearc, she was the kingdom’s Sylvan bard twice. (And while I hadn’t realized when we spoke, she served both times under Liadain, an Æthelmearc royal very near and dear to Jessa’s and my hearts, for whom I had composed “Lady of the Rose”.) Her Highness was lovely, effervescent, and deeply enjoyable to talk to (and–yes!–to geek about bardic with). Everyone I spoke with at the event had the same reaction. I’m filled with confidence for the future of the East.
  • Maistre Lucien de Pontivy, my first teacher, whom I had not spent time with in a long while. I hadn’t known that she and her wife would be at Roses, and I had missed her keenly. I was able to have a private chat with her that ran longer than I’d intended (have you met me?), but provided sustenance for my soul and unexpected clarity for my path as a bard and musician. However much or little time I get in her company, she will always be a treasured friend.
  • Mistress Aildreda de Tamworthe, Lucien’s wife, who has been a guide and a model the last few years. Our talk was brief (yes, actually brief, I swear), but a balm and a tonic.
  • Duchess Caoilfhionn, who accompanied her Highness to the event, and was still able to get time for the fencing that nourishes her. Again, a couple of brief conversations I had been looking forward to were well worth the wait, and greatly appreciated.
  • Cedar the Barefoot. What is there to say? I just love them, I know how busy they are, but when I offer them a challenge they take it on, producing a beautiful, very personal song that I enjoyed deeply at the bardic circle.
  • Ekaterine of Anglespur, who welcomed me into her camp, shared deep conversation, and introduced me to a few young friends, one of whom [EDIT: Asrin McKairn] was familiar with my music, and sang a song for us. Ekaterine told me later that our conversation encouraged the youths to engage more actively for the rest of the event, but I’m pretty sure she has that backwards. They inspired me. (And I guess it could be both/and.)
  • Mistress Aife, back for her first nighttime bardic circle since her young daughter was born, and in as fine form as I’d ever seen her. The balance of gravity and joy she emanates when she performs, as well as when she listens, is a palpable part of what makes a Concordian bardic circle special.
  • Master Toki, always ready with some thoughtful advice and some good cheer.

I could go on all day (have you met me?), and I’ll do what I can not to. I do want to mention yesterday’s closing Baronial court, where many wonderful things happened, but a few brought me particular joy.

  • Agnes won the bardic War Point for House York, without which we would have surely lost the war, since we started out that tally at a 5-0 deficit behind House Lancaster. (Ultimately, we managed to actually tie the score at 6-6, where a well-placed bribe to the Mercenary Guild provided York the tiebreaking win. I love a come-from-behind sports movie finish.)
  • [EDIT] Doug Doan, the energetic organizer of Bardic practices and events for Concordia and the East (including the great EKCOP event a few months back) received his well-deserved Order of the Pine for service.
  • Jessa and I were called up in court to join the Order of the Friends of Concordia, an award we had both long desired, if truth be told. It’s a simple thing, it just speaks of allegiance, and as I’ve said, Concordia has had ours for a while.
  • Their Excellencies Faolán and Maria were not finished with me, however. (I’m getting a little familiar with the “where do you think you’re going?” blindside, but it still catches me by surprise, and I’m not going to pretend to mind–have you met me?) They called up their predecessors, JP and Lylie, who presented me with the Order of the Sapphire scroll that had not been present when I was inducted 18 months earlier on stepping down as Baronial Bard. I have the decency to be a little embarrassed at getting fussed over two times for the same award…but Elizabeth Greenleaf’s incredible scroll absolutely deserved to be seen and read in court, and was well worth waiting for. As a bonus, it meant I got to be up at the front of court to see my longtime friend (and sometime vocalist) Finnguala ingen Néill meic Chuircc called in for the Sapphire for her gardening and agriculture research. Of the people who weren’t already in the Order, there are few people I’d rather have sat with for this induction.
Scroll by Elizabeth Greenleaf. Shakespeare quote from As You Like It, Act II, Scene vii.

I will confess, I’ve been struggling with my focus for the last few months. There are various contributors, including my recent job change, but I haven’t completed any of the new songs I’ve been turning around in my head. (Yes, I have done a trio of filks that were incredibly fun and well-received, but while I have learned to love filking, it isn’t the core of my identity as a bard.) I can see and feel Pennsic, getting ever closer, and I don’t feel like I’ve really begun my preparations for this season at all. I feel pulled in all directions and have given none my undivided attention. I’ve barely touched the lute since K&Q in February.

It feels like this weekend was an opportunity to reconnect with what matters to me, and find my true north again. Time will tell. In the meanwhile, I offer my Concordian and Eastern family my love and gratitude for a beautiful refreshing time.

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