Last Monday was the last day of a two-weeks-straight frost spell, and I had a look around outside.
Frost itself can be stupendously pretty when you get up close:
Those were taken at the edges of the university parking lot. Since that one is pretty close to the Moselle, and since I'd heard that this not unimportant water-street had been closed for ships due to ice, I went and had a look. I stuck around for a short while, and saw an icebreaker pass through to push the floes around.
I can hardly believe it. Never seen anything like that before. Just for comparison I took some photos the day before yesterday, and yesterday as well:
On the way home I decided to have a look at the Wied, a small river - I don't think anything bigger than a kayak goes there.
Excluding a few spots, it was frozen solid. Two people were ice skating - ON THE RIVER, I TELL YOU! I've never seen a river completely frozen before. And, well, while I don't even have ice skates, I did take a walk. It did turn out a nice day for birdspotting here, too.
Around the edges I found some more wonderful ice and frost structures. I couldn't really capture any properly... They were so amazing. You could see the water had been higher when the first layer of ice formed, then ther was another layer underneath that formed with lower water, and the structures that formed between, and the air bubbles, and the light, and the frost growing on the edges. Breathtakingly beautiful.
All right, so I’m a bit slow. Last Friday I went to the Historienfestspiele (history festival) at Ehrenbreitstein. The old castle was a great setting for such an event. It’s sort of stretched out at the top of a mountain or hill or rock, and has several yards. It was quite a surprise thinking I’d seen most, and then coming across a Roman military camp again as big as the market I’d seen already. XD
The whole thing started on Thursday, a holiday, and ended on Sunday, but on the other days I had to help prepare my grandfather’s ninetieth birthday. Since the workday-Friday had no presentations or shows planned at all, it was quite slow, which wasn’t the worst for me, since it meant no huge crowds.
So what was left? Market stalls and a few people in costumes, and the decorated tents, mostly, but sometimes you get lucky.
The knights who on the other days did showfights were there, and talked to people about their gear, including handing around swords, helmets and a chainmail shirt so you could tell how heavy it was. At some point when I was there, along with a gaggle of (other) small kids, two of them spontaneously did a short fight. So, Central Europeans duel…
…Huns loon on…
…Romans are on holiday…
…and Vikings test out the baseball bat.
The Roman camp, as mentioned, was pretty big; I didn’t count, but estimate about thirty tents. The fact that you could only walk past, not between them, and that there was a VW Passat parked in the middle somewhat ruined the effect, though.
I forgot going back to the Prussian camp (just half a dozen tents, and smaller, at that) and take a photo. Oh, well, maybe next year. Apart from one man watching the stalls, the Celts were not to be found.
As to the commercialism, A silversmith had a decoration that worked on me…
…an honest-to-god ratfur. Conversational piece, that. I asked about it, joined in a chat a bit later about how business was going, and ended up buying a precious stone doughnut disc - that’s the first piece of jewellery I bought in ten years or so.
I also had a chat with someone helping to run a stall that sold glass pens and leather masks, and, since I had found instructions for making leather masks online and had wanted to try that, asked about the kind of leather used. Bad news, it’s so hard to get they have to order it internationally, but at least now I know.
Later I talked to a bowmaker, because I’d be interested in learning, but would prefer to find some people interested in the shooting side of things, and not with modern sports bows, too - building a range in my garden just for me is both boring and not really possible.mh, the yard might work, if the neighbours would park their car inside…
The stalls were pretty mixed, from “handcrafted leather works while you wait” through “mass-produced ‘magical’ amulets” to “sand-filled toy lizards you can buy in any toy shop and tie-dyed clothes in psychedelic colours” - the latter seemed quite out of place between the leather and whatnot.
Anyway, all in all, I’m glad I went, even if I got my first (not very bad) sunburn in years, on the back of my upper arms.
I spent most of yesterday at at event day at the Ice Age Museum Monrepos.
I guess most time I spent watching Dr. Johann Tinnes, who was demonstrating flintknapping, and explaining bows and harpoon tips and |atlatls and whatnot. Events like that are so much more interesting in my opinion than a normal museum because the replicas the artisans brought along you could actually take in your hand.
To the right, from the top:
handles of atlatls
a little “tin” for needles, made from a piece of hollow bone with a wooden stopper at each end
an ivory flute (holes on the other side)
several harpoon tips, mostly carved from bone, one with a bone core and added flint blades
unfinished harpoon tips to show the work progression.
I took some more photos of tools made by Markus Plesker:
[caption id="attachment_27" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="knives, arrowheads, sickles, an axe and a hatchet"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_28" align="aligncenter" width="262" caption="Arrows and atlatls (those do not belong together, the arrows are for bows)"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_29" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Closeup of an attached arrowhead."][/caption]
There also was a range where you could try out bows and atlatl. I didn’t do so well on the archery, but with the other I made the spear stick in the target (albeit a bit off the marked field) on my third try, which was a lot better than the people who took turns while I was waiting. The targets were images of animals, and two plush birdies. XD
For a break, I listened to a presentation about a dig in Schleswig-Holstein. It dealed a lot with geology (how informative or confusing the layers of ground were, then the characteristics of the found flint tools, and odd depressions whose walls were littered with flint and bone stuff, but the ground not, which is unique and mysterious, and they have no idea what’s up with that.
I chickened out on taking a photo of the roe deer carcass that was butchered as demonstration (not connected with the archery…) - I’m still too damn shy. There is something about watching some little kids scraping rests of flesh off a hide, while another “borrows” the forelegs to put life-size footprint-stamps on their clay project. Those are some children who’ll grow up knowing that meat equals dead animals, which is a good thing.
The last part of the event was an archery tournament between a bunch of reenactors of different periods. the tournament itself took less time than them explaining their bows, but there you go. In contrast to the boy next to me who honestly said “This is bloody boring because they talk so much”, I found it at least somewhat interesting.
Here they are all posing for the audience, to the very left the resident shaman: