Chai Tea Latte but no Scotch Eggs this time

Yesterday morning I was in Huntersville, NC for the Carolina Renaissance Festival. I realized at cast call that I’d forgotten my wallet in the car, so I sent my hounds on down with the group and ran back to the car. Later, temp pass and money in hand, I headed down to our tent with the plan to grab a chai tea latte on the way.

Instead, I just walked and remembered.

I passed the DaVinci flying machines and remembered how we used to stop there in the afternoons the first season we did with CRF because it was cooler there. We didn’t have a tent of our own, so we did a lot of walking. I remembered the first time Hunky and Profee saw the flying machines, and how they would just stop and stare. Now they pass it without a second glance.

Heading out to exercise the hounds

Turning the corner at the flying machines brought me to the site of our first tent, now a shop. That tent was in front of a storm drain that was perpetually clogged, and literally a river ran through our tent. The ceiling sagged, and it was so small that we could only have two people in the tent at a time. Sometimes I can still smell the mud and mildew on my navy velveteen gown, since it was new that season, our second with CRF.

I remembered taking Lizzard that season, and how she ran off from the tent one day when I’d dropped her leash and headed for the food…blind eyes wide and nose in full tilt sniff.

Lady Anna and Liz'beth

I then strolled through the food area, void of its throng of patrons but still filled with the smells of bread bowls, turkey legs, and other tempting food. How many hounds had I yanked up from the ground as they tried to snatch a turkey tendon that a patron had dropped? How many times had I laughed at one of the food vendors who always called out to us to feed those skinny dogs?

I saw people pulling tarps off the front of their stores and readying their shops for the day. The rocking horse was being tested. The pickle barrel was being unlocked.

Continuing on, I came to the crossroads where the Woods Walk starts. Nothing but merchants and blessed blessed shade…mixed with dirt that permeates your soul when you spend much time there. Our third season was spent at one end of this row, right next to the joust.

My “McDonald Gown” made its debut at CRF this year, and I quickly learned that while the leine sleeves looked cool that big they just weren’t functional for holding a leash or going to the privy.

For the most part, it was just me, Joanne, and Candy for that season and we had the best time! I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard or cried that hard when a season ended before or since. That was the season of the greyhound faeries, and boy were they CROSS faeries!

Lady Rhianna and Faeries

I admit to lingering a bit at that tent site, lamenting the fact that our wonderful home now has a building on it that houses wax hands. But seasons change and from there we moved up to the front of the festival. I am reminded of that season every time I head in for cast call, because our tent was right next to the gate where we enter in the mornings. The sky chairs on one side and cinnamon almonds right in front of us…that season was heaven on the senses. Well, not the sense of hearing because we were RIGHT in front of the cannon…

That was the first season we were joined by Pinky, the italian greyhound, and truly lived up to our “Hounds” name by also being joined by an irish wolfhound called Morgan. That tent was about the same size, and we loved being so close to the royals and the front of the festival. I thought of that as I headed to my car.

Last year they put us as far from the front gate as we’d ever been, up by the belly dancers at the Dutch Door stage. We started the season thinking it would be horrible but ended the season with new friends and some new vocabulary…yalayahabeebee!

Our busy tent

All those memories rushed over me as I walked down to the tent yesterday morning. Chai tea latte, pumpkin milkshakes, stick weaving, Hunky pulling my skirt off at the joust, cinnamon almonds, the best beef jerky ever, chowder in bread bowls, “hang onta sumthin” when unlacing a corset, bees trapped in bodices, Merry Elizabeth and her trained rocks, “Here kitty kitty kitty…” It was almost too much, but as I was about to drown in nostalgia I turned the corner and saw what has become the next generation of the Hounds of East Fairhaven. I am the only original member left, and even I’m only there two times a year. I saw them and was jealous…but then was proud. My HoEF is in very good hands, and paws…and soon it will be time for the Georgia Renaissance Festival, won’t it?


Ah, Monday…

I’m back from my surprise (or not so) trip to the Carolina Renaissance Festival to check in on the Hounds of East Fairhaven performing group…and to get my first of two rennie fixes for this fall since I am too far away to do all seven weekends this year. The dogs and I piled into the Hounda Friday night and headed north. Thank goodness for free nights and weekends, because I burned up my cell phone battery on the six hours it took me to get there. We pulled out of my driveway here in Montgomery around 7pm EST, and arrived in NC at Debbie’s house somewhere between 1 and 2am EST. The hounds slept the whole way as Leah, my mom, and Mike kept me company via the tiny headset that was attached to my cell phone.

Saturday morning was ROUGH. I was awake at 6am to get all three hounds fed and myself clean and ready to go to be at the festival grounds at 8am. Luckily Debbie lives close by… After a doughnut (yeah yeah) and a shower, I was good to go.

I had instant confirmation that I now live on the surface of the sun when I got to the festival grounds…it was COLD!!! A hot chai latte later, I was raring to go when I was attacked by my Thug. The look on her face when she turned around in cast call and saw me made the six hour drive worth it. Lurve you, sweetie. I also was the happy recipient of a “Tom Smiter” hug, and this time he didn’t go to the lengths he did at the Georgia Renaissance Festival to avoid me. I mean honestly, a broken ankle? A girl can take a hint, hey?

Our tent is just lovely this year. In fact, everything was lovely! I’m so proud of the group I could burst. I had mixed feelings about this season…afraid that something would go wrong, guilty that I’d up and bailed on them, sad at the longing to be making the short drive to Huntersville at 5:30 every Saturday and Sunday…but I feel better now. The director of the festival, who has not said much to me over the five years I’ve been involved with CRF, said to me how much he loved having the hounds there, and I nearly cried with joy. Seriously. That’s all I ever wanted…for the hounds to be a legitimate and necessary part of the CRF family, and I think we’ve gotten that now.

“Mah Sistah” Leah came up Saturday and that was wonderful. I miss her and I miss the other Sistah Kimmy so very much now that I’m two states away from them! The dogs all did well and a good time was had by all, I think.

Here are some images from my weekend…more forthcoming when I head back that way for the weekend before Halloween!!

Francesca gives a paw

Pretty Girl

A study in devotion

Our Grown Up Thug, Kalyne

Sirusly, Mom.  Cold. Out. Here.