Non-wages of war

Wars are pretty weird. Were it not for the second big one,
I probably wouldn't be here. Dad did about everything to
avoid the draft, even mustering the bravery to propose and
start a family. Yet doing everything to stay out of Vietnam
inspired me to go to college, eventually leading to a life as
a journalist. That I was a better draft dodger than he was
one of the few things that made my dad proud of me. So
it was with mixed bemusement that I drove to western
Pennsylvania for the 38th
Pennsic War of the Society for
Creative Anachronism. As with most conflicts, the origins
and objectives get fuzzy over time, especially over so
many years. Some talk of deciding who'd carry the banner
against the West if the East and Middle Kingdoms united,
and whether the loser really has to accept Pittsburgh.
Some say it started on a hokey premise like today's real
wars with a king declaring war on himself ... and losing.
And like modern conflicts, who won is murky. Click the
link for the latest official word on who won. However in
real terms, every one of the 11,000 campers who showed
up was a winner. Sure there were the aggressive warriors
– male and female – who championed their kingdoms and
physical prowess on the  battlefield. Hand-to-hand
combatants went at each other while arrows and lances
from field artillery filled the air. More than a few limped
off with bruises. Good workouts were had by all, but I'd
rather swim laps for exercise, thank you. The real magic
was having that many people get together for two weeks
to really enjoy one another's company and ideas. There
were classes on everything: madrigals, armor making,
spinning, brewing ales and meads, storytelling, arrow
fletching, baking, herbs and about anything imaginable
except modern technology. A very few broke the illusion
by having a cell phone. But for the most part, one could
walk the car-free grounds and fantasize being in the
Middle Ages as attendees strolled about in garb. Kids
played with each other, not Game Boys. No blank-faced
iPod listeners. No TVs. The Big Game wasn't an arena full
of steroid junkies brought to you by Budweiser and tax
breaks. It was Pennsic. Just local folks from around the
world who got together to meet thousands of the best
friends they hadn't met yet. We shared a broiling sun, rain,
bugs and mud, and the camaraderie all of that can instill
when mixed with good food, beverages and conversation.
Until next time, life will be just mundane.
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Bob Sterner
photos © 2009
Tenting, Barbara Krooss Photo
Bosum Buddies
Brewers of the Realm
Cooper Lake
High-Tech Armor
Lions End (Long Island)
L'Chef D'Ostrgardr
Royal Chariot
Battle On!
White Way (Manhattan)
Broken Bridge (Brooklyn)
Field Artillery
M'lady Barbara
Gentle(wo)men, Start Your War
Flamingo Yurt