My Garland Of Roses In Her Hair

The first time we went to a Renaissance festival I tried not to people watch with my mouth agape while silently pronouncing everyone there absolutely, totally, certifiably nuts.  Folks were dressed up trekking about the woods saying, “Milord” and “Milady” with American/”English” accents.  The funny thing was I think I heard a bit of cockney in there.  One guy was sprawled out on the grass playing a lute.  “Nobility” was spotted carrying their own “jewel encrusted” chalices filled with mead and ale.  There were women carrying great baskets of fresh flowers for sale.  Nearby fire blazed from a glassblower’s shop.  “I need to use ye old bathrooms” my husband quipped and snickered into my ear as I pointed him toward a giant sign that read, “Privies.”  It dawned on me then that these lunatics were all traipsing around in heavy velvet, actual armor, and stifling robes in NO AIR CONDITIONING.  This wasn’t the Renaissance; this was medieval!  The American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke said, “Not much was really invented during the Renaissance, if you don’t count modern civilization.”  And then I noticed these pretty garlands of flowers adorned with long, flowing silk ribbons and suddenly I found myself wanting one.  I chose a delicate orange with yellow silk ribbons and saw it had a shorter green ribbon as well.  It took me awhile to realize that the green ribbon was the one to be used to tie behind your head which held the garland in place.  Once it was around my hair I felt beautiful, feminine, and inexplicably serene.  Then Burk found a stall selling pet dragons and he didn’t bat an eye at purchasing one for himself even though most were being perused by kids.  I found it was a bit like Halloween combined with time travel.  With so many people all using the same manner of speech, wearing period dress, and practicing antiquated customs it sort of altered reality.  But it worked best if one actually played along.  I wondered to myself when I’d lost my love for being a just a touch weird and not caring what others thought.  This year we returned and that morning on impulse I pulled out my five year old’s Princess Merida dress, which she had never worn.  It was sentimental to me because it was the first real movie we ever took her to and a great role model for her which also echoed some of her heritage.  To say that my husband doesn’t “do” dress up would be an incredible understatement.  Ironically, he’s not cool; I think he’s just VERY reserved.  Rummaging around in my closet, I tried to find something that might pass as vaguely Renaissancesque.  I came out with a gypsy duster and hoped it would suffice.  To my great surprise, Burk’s dragon from several years ago appeared out of nowhere and rested on his wrist.  “You know,” I said cautiously, “if you just wore all black you could go as a dragon tamer maybe.”  This did not seem to bother him and off we went.  Our little one was the only girl in the whole 16th century English village to have chosen to dress as Merida.  Disney’s Princess Merida is Scottish and well-known for her incredible skills in archery, sword-fighting, and riding like the wind on her horse.  Her dress was very much appreciated and even caught the notice of the Queen, Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of King Henry VIII.  She was crossing a bridge followed by her retinue when I found myself immediately sinking into a deep curtsey (I kid you not) followed by, “Your Majesty.”  Impressed and nodding her approval, her dark eyes lit upon my child.  “Are you Merida?” she asked with more than a hint of appreciation in her voice.  “Yes, ma’am,” my little one replied.  “Well then you simply MUST be made an official princess,” she decreed and my baby doll just looked at her frozen with wide-eyed wonder.  Signaling to one of her ladies-in-waiting, a salt shaker was produced full of purple and gold glitter.  She was then officially decreed a princess and was greeted all around with a resounding cheer of “huzzah!”  And then, as they continued on, each one bowed to her and said, “Your Highness.”  I don’t care how silly it seems, I was so incredibly proud of her.  And she was coronated wearing my garland of roses in her hair.

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