Thursday, March 23, 2017

GW26: The measure of a man, the measure of a mission (part 2)

Part 2: The weave of tent canvas and friendships. 

Mooneschadowe was on familiar ground this year, and when we arrived at site Saturday night much of the terrain was as I had last seen it the year before. We were nestled between the woods at the end of the ravine, and Queen's highway, on the far side of Ansteorra way. back and flank to the trees, while we faced the road and our other side was butted up against Camp Whitticare. We weren't tired so much as stiff from the journey just then, still, pitching "the Hawk and Lilly" (Mine and my wife's name for our 12x18 black and red oval pavilion) was not something to be casually ventured into.

Help came, as it always did from the bulk of the Liondragon guard present on site. Both the military arm, and strong back of the shire-turned-province, its membership was fleshed out with the robust frames of young men and women eager to invest time and energy into a good cause.

I had parted paths with "the guard" ages ago, and not long after I had hung up my armour for the final time. It was a bitter decision, but one that even now I don't regret making so much as regret having to even consider it. The consequences of that decision were several. Intended was the fact that I then had time to pursue my heraldry more thoroughly. Unintended was the separation between myself and the fighting community of Mooneschaodwe.

As schedules shifted, leadership changed hands multiple times over, and both people and culture changed across a span of years, Mooneschaodwe developed two very distinct arms, vaguely delineated along fighter and non-fighter lines. While hardly a perfect relationship, the two groups are still both fiercely loyal to the whole that is Mooneschaodwe. And as such, I was sadly out of touch with fully half of our more active membership due to a decision that perhaps a half dozen people in the group had been playing long enough to remember.

In testament to the true spirit of the Guard, dep[site the fact that I only casually know three or four of the members present, and could only barely say the same of the other four or five, the tired but energised guardsmen swarmed over the campsite and helped us erect the Hawk and Lilly in good order.

The process was also changed this year. After surviving the storm that ended Gulf XXV, I added high-wind ropes and a doorframe to our tent to reinforce the structure, changing how it was pitched. I found the process to be actually a lot easier than before, and within the hour, we had the tent up, the walls hung and staked down, and our heavy baggage under shelter just in time for the late-night drizzle to begin.

In the midst of this wartime construction project I found myself shoulder to shoulder with an unlikely, but not unexpected compatriot. To not expect Centurion Charles the Grey was to blanketly forget his role both within the province and the guard. But at the same time, to count it likely that he and I would be working togeather would be to forget a not-short run of friction between us.

Perhaps the best summary one could offer on our conflicts is that the bigger the issue, the bigger our disagreement. In only a handful of circumstances were he and I aligned even remotely in our talking points. Most notably of these were during the push for Province, which started as a "good idea", and became a crucible of group self-identity. But even then, our talking points in favour of the move (and rebutting naysayers) contained vastly different perspectives on the core concept.

But by that same metric, the smaller the issue, the smaller the challenge, it seemed, life would offer us little room to argue or even disagree. When push came to shove, we were both equally likely to to be amongst the first to help carry something or help raise a pavilion. In the end, it was in our nature.

There was a time when the two of us within eye-shot of each other would have promised, at the very minimum, a short exchange of verbal barbs, and an escalation was not unlikely in the least at one point.

There was no cataclysmic event that ended our fights, nor were there any epic moments where we set down our differences in some dignified agreement. I think, if I had to put words to it, we both grew out of the more fevered temperaments that had accelerated our earlier conflicts. The building blocks for more are still there, and I doubt they will ever go away, but that night, as we worked in honest unison to settle the latest arrivals in, I think I was most taken with the idea that maybe, just maybe, the darkest and most destructive of our moments were truly behind us.

When the final items were pushed through the door, and the last of the stakes were hammered into the ground, the guard and myself met with hearty handshakes and big hugs of gratitude, I for the help, and they for the company. It struck me then, for no particular reason than chance itself, that these were truly people I knew far, far too little about, and had too few reasons to not learn more about them. Perhaps these cold, tired moments of guidelines and tent poles could prove to be the rebuilding of a bridge I had inadvertently left to crumple years before.

Time, I knew, would tell, but for the moment we had a camp, meaning my family, and our friend would have shelter for what was quickly shaping up to be a cold, wet night. As the hour closed with midnight we slowly bunked down, seeking refuge from the plunging temperatures.

Dawn, I also knew, would see a great many things begin.

His Lordship Ivo Blackhawk
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King!"

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