Monday, August 4, 2014

Keeping Life Interesting

This was the weekend with Mead Day in it.  Mead Day, as some of you may already know, is the first Saturday in August and is used to bring awareness to that most wonderful elixir, honey wine.  Like many things of the 21st century, modern mead-makers have elevated this delicious treat to levels of deliciousness heretofore unheard of.  Take, for example, the Chocolate Orange Reserve blend of Starrlight Mead, which is our local meadery in Pittsboro.  Chocolate.  Orange.  Mead.


So anyway, it is my strong affection for Starrlight Mead that brings me to Mead Day each year.  And the event always delights.  For one thing, let's start off with a glass of the richly delicious Blackberry Mead, a deep red liquid of honey, blackberry, and yum, with great legs that roll gently over the palate and into the bloodstream with all the intoxicating effects of the best wines and none of the bothersome side effects--I don't get a wine headache or the wide-awake-in-the-middle-of-the-night problems that come from grape-based wines.  (Please, yes, GIVE ME MORE MEAD.)

So we first stopped in to the meadery itself, equipped ourselves with glasses of blackberry mead, and then headed into the rain to check out the local wares.  We were all surprised, of course, to find a truly autumnal day in the middle of our Carolina summer.  We have endured a very wet year, from snow and ice all winter, to a rainy rainy spring, and now a summer marked by torrential downpours, where the radar not only shows orange, but red, maroon and purple as well, along with temps pressing against three digits for several days running.

But we awoke Saturday to a morning in the low 60s, and even as we got ready to leave for the afternoon festival, I was donning a sweatshirt and preparing myself for a day more like an NC October.  The air was cool, and instead of the steamy humidity we'd been struggling through all week, we were now looking at a misty rain in a steady, but not unpleasant, downfall.  What better way to celebrate a beverage of our Celtic heritage than with a rainy day????

So as I walked among the vendors of such beautiful trinkets as jewelry, faerie houses, iron-worked candlesticks, beeswax candles and soaps, and crocheted dragons, I really didn't mind the rain that fell softly down, dampening my shirt, cooling my toes, and occasionally trickling through my hair.  The organizers had arranged the tents such that both the vendors and the attendants were under cover as we walked through the rows--only as we moved from section to section were we truly exposed to the weather.  

As with many such celebrations, a group of gentlemen hosted a sword-fighting competition with exhibition fighting and a chance to test your own skill against trained swordsmen, all for the benefit of the day's charity.  So I stood for quite some time next to the sword fighting tent and watched as grown men donned armor and beat the crap out of one another with sticks and pointy things.  We stood long enough, my friends and I, that the rain could not go unnoticed, and while we weren't soaked through, we were certainly wet.  And I realized as I stood that the rain added a certain context to the event, as I can imagine the people of Scotland and Ireland must develop a tolerance to a lot of rain.  As a younger person, the rain would have deterred me.  I would have bemoaned the bad luck, as the weather would have "ruined" the event.  Now, though, I realize life is short, and if I'm going to go enjoy a little Blackberry Mead, I'm certainly not going to let a little drizzle stop me.  I realized, as I stood there, that our Celtic ancestors must have learned that lesson early on, for in an area where rain is a near-constant companion, you must be willing to stand in the rain, or you wouldn't be able to enjoy much at all.  So while I looked out at the deep greenery around me, and enjoyed the mist coming down, and laughed at the fairly baudy humor of the sword fighters, I realized what a joy it is to be able to participate in Mead Day and not fret one bit about the cool rain or the damp chill creeping into my shoes. 

And so was my philosophical point of view as I headed back into the meadery for a second glass of blackberry yum, and then had a sit in front of the delightful band.  I spent some time talking to the crochet lady as well.  She had made dragons and gnomes and all sorts of fantasy creatures, including an Ewok and a Yoda.  She had a kitchen witch on a broom, and as we talked, she lifted the kitchen witch's cape and exposed a little, crocheted rear end, chuckling as she did so.  "You hang the witch from a string," she said, "and if she turns so she is facing out (and you can see her bum), then you know it's a night to order take-out and not cook."  I fell in love with the beautiful crochet lady who wore a lovely leather mask, flowing skirts and a large, jewel-toned dragon on her shoulder. 

Such was Mead Day, 2014.  Thank you Becky Starr (and Ben too!) of Starrlight Mead, for making it happen!!!

That evening we ate dinner with friends and then went to see Guardians of the Galaxy.  We had a great time, and laughed a lot, sitting in my living room and tossing jokes back and forth that can never be repeated, partly for their adults-only content, and partly because these things just lose something in the translation.  Nevertheless, I laughed from my belly till I had tears in my eyes.

I had made myself a promise that I would try each weekend to do something worthy of a blog entry, and then blog each week.  This would accomplish two things--make my life a lot more interesting, and get me back to writing.  I certainly succeeded this weekend, because even after the fun of Mead Day, we still had Sunday, which included another trip out to Pittsboro, this time to enjoy the big cats at Carolina Tiger Rescue.

I've let too many months go by since I was there last, and so I was delighted to get back to see my old friends.  We walked the gravel paths, chuffling at the tigers, being ignored by the lions, and getting quite a lecture from the smaller cats.  Sunday's weather was absolutely perfect, and we were able to shed the sweatshirts and trek the path with little ado.  I got to see Aria again, one of the Carolina Tiger miracles, who arrived in their care at the edge of life, having suffered from an illness that left her desperately thin and miserable.  She had owners who loved her but simply could not provide the care a tiger needs, and after only a few months at Carolina Tiger was on the mend, and now, many months later, is robust, beautiful, happy and playful, sporting a lovely and thick ruff of fur--a marked departure from the thinning, sad hair she had arrived with. 

I saw Mona and Moki, two dark orange, glorious tigers, who arrived at Carolina Tiger Rescue full of aggression and anger, seeming a lot like the patients I've worked with, angry after years of struggle, distrustful, hungry, and oozing neurotic misery.  Within a year of the careful, consistent, relatively-stress-free life at Carolina Tiger Rescue, they became lovely, poised, delightfully mischievous tigers.  They have lived at Carolina Tiger Rescue many years now, and they are wonderful .  They had never had an opportunity to be socialized properly, so they are still naughty neighbors--aggressive against the fence and full of posturing, negative energy to their peers--so they have a privacy fence constructed of used traffic barrels that allows them the illusion of alone time.  But damn, they are beautiful.

Dinner on Sunday was another treat--Carmen's Cuban Cafe near the airport.  If you're local and haven't yet been, I highly recommend it.  And so you see, promising myself a blogworthy weekend worked out, and I'm hoping the trend continues!!

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