August 13th, 2007

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Impressions of Pennsic: Weather

Now that I'm back and mostly unpacked, it's time for the LJ diary of my summer vacation. As has become my style, I'm going to cover it a bit impressionistically, with several short entries about the high points and interesting bits arranged more or less topically, completely ignoring chronological order.

So to start off, let's get the whining out of the way, and talk about the weather, since that really was the principal topic of conversation *at* Pennsic.

Hot: hot hot hot, oh, hot

You know it's an excessively warm Pennsic when you go into the solar shower, turn on the tap, and your first reaction is, "Damn -- the water's warm".

Really, I can't complain that much: I gather that it was brutally hot for the week when I *wasn't* there, and the heat was basically unrelieved. But the list for next Pennsic definitely includes a fan for inside the tent at night, for times when it's that bad.

Wet: wet wet wet, oh, wet

You know it's an excessively damp Pennsic when, on Thursday morning, you take out the shoes that you wore through the Great Monsoon of Doom on Tuesday, and they've gotten fuzzy. And mind, I don't mean little spots of mildew here: I mean a fine magnificant white beard of fine little hairs, a good half-inch long, all over the shoes. Never have I been so eager to consign an article of clothing to the depths of the trash can.

The problem wasn't so much the rain itself, which was sufficiently over-the-top to be kind of fun. My backgammon class was during the Monsoon, and the result of walking from Lochleven to the Games Tent was me getting wetter than I've ever been in my life. (Finally outdoing the hurley event, which had been my previous benchmark.) But it was a relatively warm rain on a very hot day, and past a certain point you simply have to accept the amusement of wishing that your eyes were equipped with windshield wipers.

No, the problem was the fact that the rain was consistently followed by more heat and humidity, so that nothing could really get dry. By about Thursday, I had largely resigned myself to this, and wasn't generally bothering to change when I got wet, on the theory that I was rapidly running out of dry clothes anyway. But in general, the synergy of the rain and heat pretty much sucked, resulting in an enervating gooiness throughout.

All that said, it's worth noting that Friday and Saturday were particularly glorious, in the "I've stopped beating my head against the wall!" sense. For the last day or so, we got what I think of as nice, ordinary Pennsic weather, which was downright beautiful compared with the previous days. This allowed us to finish on a high note, and get a bunch of things dry before they were packed...
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Impressions of Pennsic: Lochleven

The previous whine aside, I have to note that this was oddly one of my best Pennsics in some time. Indeed, that may have been partly due to the weather. Since the heat was draining me so badly, and I simply wasn't up for dancing much (and it was too rainy to go visiting as often as I normally would), I wound up spending much of this War just hanging out in camp with Lochleven, getting to know the village better. That proved quite lovely: for the first time, I started to feel like someone *living* there, rather than simply a guest sleeping there. The result is that this Pennsic turned out to be a genuine vacation for me, something it hasn't been in a number of years. One lesson for the future is to tone down my expectations of how much I *should* do at Pennsic. Having some commitments is fine, but I should leave myself ample downtime as well.

The Sea of Blond Children: I've long heard that kids often start out rather blond, and then their hair gets darker. But this was a vivid illustration of the principle. Nearly all of the children in camp (and there were quite a number of them) had bright blond hair, far lighter than that of any of the parents around. This made it notably harder to figure out which kids went with which grownups, although I mostly had it down by the end of the War.

Related to that, it also drove home the way the SCA messes with expectations about looks. The rule in the camp seemed to be that if the child had very short hair it was male; if it had medium-length hair it was female; and if it had really long hair it was anybody's guess. Indeed, I observed this outside of camp as well -- several times I saw people trying and failing to figure out a child's gender.

"Night Falls": The recurring sight in Lochleven this year was coming into camp to find the dinner tent full of people, heads down, drumming on the table, and then shouting accusations at each other. Werewolves was the game that took over the encampment for most of the War, which isn't terribly surprising in retrospect: it's highly social, just a little bit roleplay-oriented, flexible for almost any number of people, and well-suited to a large group stuck under the fly until the rain stops again. (Although it does remind me that I need to get a Primero reconstruction that I really *like* worked up. I suspect it would be popular here...)