Tuesday, 3 May 2011

I'm back!

... and I'm sorry for the blog silence yesterday; I had pre-written a note to tell you that I'm still on the trip home from Freienfels, but I seem to have missed hitting the "publish" button, so it did not go up.

Freienfels, while I'm at it, was very nice - we were situated nicely close to things, but still in a quiet side lane on the lower meadow, with nice neighbours and not very far to go to the loo container. (That is really an interesting fact if you have to make a dash to pee in a cold night!) Also, my husband came to accompany me, and that always means I get what I jokingly call "Freigang" - furlough to make a round over the market and hug hello to all the friends and colleagues.

In addition to the old friends, it was also a market with a few firsts: First time with a new brazier/fire bowl, first time on the lower meadow with the stall, first market with the full embroidery assortment, first time with a coffee pot in addition to the teapot we always take.

Most of the German markets require, as per their regulations, use of a brazier or fire-bowl to make fire. Fire pits - a very common thing a few years ago - are not allowed anymore. Most of the groups thus carry a small or large metal fire container, often round and with three longish legs to keep it well away from the soil and grass. We had an old slightly modified cast-iron barbecue, but were never using it very much. This spring, the most pationt of husbands stumbled across a ceramic fire bowl offered in an online shop, and we did buy it. Fire bowls or other fire containers are, I'm very sure, not what a medieval traveller would have lugged around, but ceramics are at least a more historically plausible use of materials for a fire bowl than metal. The bowl does not suck all the heat from a small fire, extinguishing it; it's not too heavy, and it does look nice. We are thus very content with how the first market with the bowl went.

Also concerning fire on markets, I'm very proud that after nursing my learning curve for a few years, in bits here and there, and most of the learning done by trial and error, I am now at a point where it is totally normal and no extra trouble at all to light a fire with steel, stone, and tinder. I have the method to build the fire pre-lighting down pat, and when there's wind, it is making fire the Zen way: just wait and watch, it will all burst into flames after a while. Fire-making has been made much nicer and easier by the addition of a wax-cloth bag holding straw (for the nest to put the tinder in) and small, thin slivers of dry wood (for building the fire). The bag goes into the basket that holds the firewood as well as a small axe, a folding saw (blatantly modern, so it gets hidden in the wood) and a pair of gloves to handle hot things. The rest of the kit for fire-making - a cloth bag holding tinderbox, steel and flint and a well-waxed wooden box with fine wood shavings - goes into one of the small chests that we have, the one that is holding my tableware and food-related stuff.

It feels like a good, solidly reliable arrangement now, and thus might last for a few years. And it was really, really satisfying to just start a fire, just so. And I'm already looking forward to the next time!

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