Friday, May 9, 2008

Have You Seen My Cast Iron Float By?

Once upon a time I went through a rebelious stage. What I was rebelling against at 22 is up for grabs, but at the height of my madness I decided that (briefly) marrying the 6'4", 280 pound, quarter-Cherokee, 58 year-old, tattooed biker I had been dating was a good idea.

I have asked friends since why no one stopped me- they swear they couldn't get the commital papers signed in time.

Anyway, we got married, in a field, surrounded by teepees...

Did I mention he was a frontier re-enactor?

It certainly was not a stretch to see Tee put on buckskins, even though in street clothes he looked more like the type to just club the freaking animal to death and drag it back to his cave. Add in the waist-length braid and warpaint and there were days I kept making sure he wasn't sneaking up behind me.

So I learned to re-enact.

I tried to become a Buckskinner (Why yes, I was granted a Native American name- it's Burns-Down-the-Lodge. No, you don't need to know why). I owned a blow pipe (for the fire you perverts!).

I went camping.

Most of the trips were fun- during the day I got to answer tourist questions like:

"Is that a real fire?" (No- it's electric. I have it plugged into that rock over there)
"Is that real food? (No, it's made from frontier play-doh. The pizza delivery wigwam is over there.)
"Why you got a real bed in the tent?" (because frontier outlets for LL Bean sleeping bags were so hard to find)
"Are those real animal skins?" (Yes. We tried getting the skins off some naugas to make naugahide pants, but the selfish little bastards kept biting us. Deer are easier to kill."

At night the camps were filled with gentle jests, subtle humor, and good company- and then the Baptist Ladies Auxillary sponsoring the things went home and all hell would break loose.

Buckskinners loooove jokes. One of their best ones goes something like this:

Group is seated around the fire, with one tenderfoot (newbie) in the midst. From out of the darkness sails a brown-paper-wrapped wad, with a lit fuse. You hear,

"Fire in the hole!"

Everyone ignores it but the tenderfoot, who hits the ground.

The wad fizzles out.

General cursing ensues, a few rocks are thrown in the general direction of the yell. Drinking recommences. Newbie gets up and brushes himself off.

Ten minutes pass. Another wad zooms by, wick burning.

"Fire in the hole!"

Everyone ignores it but the newbie, who again hits the ground. This time he gets up cussin', ready to fight. There is much placating, and moonshine passing to calm him down. He finds a big rock, and throws it wildly into the darkness towards the direction the wad came from.

Ten minutes pass, another wad comes through, wick blazing.

"Fire in the hole!"

Everyone EXCEPT for the newbie hits the ground. He sits determinedly in his seat, tired of being made a fool of...

The dirt bomb explodes- showering him with paper, dirt, and straw.

The ladies cover their ears as the tenderfoot goes out into the darkness to make friends with his bomber. The Native American known as "Makes With the Stitches" is often called at this point to join in the festivities. Someone begins to play a fiddle to accompany the gentle sounds of the Bomber's head bouncing off a rock.

The tenderfoot had become a Buckskinner.

There are other ways to become a "real" Buckskinner of course. The most common in my area involves surviving a Spring Rendezvous at the local NMLRA camp site.

Why, you ask?

Because the bleepity bleep bleeping bleep campground floods every bleeping spring.

Having the proper approach to this flooding, however, is what seperates the Buckskinners from the Tenderfeet.

Everyone agrees that the proper first response to "Wake up! The bleepity bleeped Creek done flooded again, and the tin teepees (tourist RVs) is goin' under quick!" is to run to save the tourists and get them ferried to safety on our horses, backs, canoes, and rafts.

The tin teepees camp in the creek lowlands, thus, they get it first. Our tents, teepees, lean-tos, and throws are all on higher ground, meaning we have at least 30 minutes before the water hits us.

Once the tourists have been saved (with great speed, and force as needed) Tenderfeet snatch all available "important stuff" from their camps and run to the concrete bunker sunk in the high hillside for just such flooding.

Buckskinners don't run. Hell, they don't even walk.

They amble back to their camps, or occassionally swim, stopping along the way to grab some coffee with Two-Dogs, or to watch as the Porto-Pottie from the front gate floats away. When they get to camp they simply put the food, firearms and powder, weapons, sacred items, and clothing on the bed, and sit down to watch the excitement.

I once stood in water up to my hips, moouth hanging open, as Tee and friends calmly set up 4 tall iron poles, supported our fire grill on them, and used a shovel to "raise" the fire itself and place the burning logs on the grill. Tobacco pouches and pipes around their necks, the guys put their camp chairs and the table on boxes, and sat down to play cards.

A few minutes later Tee noticed me, and said "Hey honey, I think your cast iron kitchen gear just floated by in that there box. Current's getting mighty strong; might wanna tie that down."

Shaking my head, I did it, then went off to do needlework with the ladies in the next camp.

You know, it really is easier when the embroidery hoop is floating...

Come to think of it, I guess I became a real Buckskinner after all.

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