I was on the team hosting Drachenwald’s 12th Night Coronation, the one responsible for all the event spreadsheets, so I was regularly updating the list of registered people on the event web page, sending out emails, and updating the page with news items for the event, updating the list of who has allergies, or food restrictions (33 of of 160 registered!), compiling the food shopping list so that the main autocrat could get the food delivered on site, keeping a list of how many folk needed to borrow bedding, and making certain that we had enough for them all, and keeping track of who was coming in via plane or train and finding them rides. There were 17 SCA folk on the flight that came in at 15:20 on Friday, so we were three cars that went out to pick them up.
My van had room for all the luggage, plus two passengers. E took four passengers, A also had four, and A’s, car, which T drove, had room for six (the remaining two had a rental car, which was handy, as they were the ones whose luggage didn’t make the connection, so they had to stay a little longer at the airport to deal with paperwork to get the luggage to catch up with them, which it did).
Since we had the key to the site from Wednesday we moved our cats that day to Keldor’s dad’s house, which is less than 1 km from site, so we could both spend lots of time on site, and still check in on them and see them fed. Having the site that long meant that we could get the royal beds set up (they all flew in) done on Wednesday. Originally I had thought to give Avery (outgoing King) and his partner our rope bed, and the double bed in our attic for Beatrix (incoming Queen) and her partner, and the other two Royals (who were not bringing partners) would get the two cot beds. After I got the four beds set up in that room my other autocrat asked if I had heard that the Avery’s partner wasn’t coming? (She’d registered months ago, but they hadn’t done a cancelation in the event registration system when plans changed). It didn’t feel fair that one of the royals traveling without their partner should get a double bed, and the others get single beds, so we did a swap, I carried the rope bed over the the room in the other hall that Keldor and I would sleep in, and the comfy single bed mattress that he and I would have slept on over to the really large royal room (it is normally a conference room).
Thursday Keldor dug a snow cave into the large pile of snow in the parking area, where all of the snow plowed from the parking lot got piled. He started it normal, with a small opening that one must crawl through, but then made the entry area taller, and brought the top to a peaked arch, for stability, so that people could get in by just ducking, rather than crawling. The result wound up looking not at all like he’d intended, but, since it did, one of our members went and cut a few branches of a tree to place strategically over the entrance, just to enhance the effect.
He made the inside spacious, and covered the benches with reindeer hides for comfort.
I really wanted them to use it for one of the Vigils, but when we suggested it, the Pelicans decided that it made more sense to do them inside, since there was the possibility to have both of them behind the stage, one in the room Keldor and I were sleeping in, and the other just around the corner, so that folk could be ushered into that hallway when it was their turn, and then could visit first one, and then the other candidate, and then exit through the other door, for easy traffic flow. I can’t fault their logic, but the vigil in a snow cave would have been cool. The pelicans were also worried that it would be too cold for the candidate to spend the whole evening in the cave, but, in hind sight, that could have been solved by letting them take turns, one inside, the other in the cave for an hour, and then switch. But, that would have added its own complications, and I think the candidates enjoyed the vigils they got.
Instead we made it known that the snow cave was intended for people who needed a little quiet time away from the noise of the event, and, I am told, it was used as such. One person even came to thank me later for the space, as they had a friend who was having a meltdown, and they took them to the cave, and they were able to relax and become ready to join the event again.
On Wednesday or Thursday evening the Pelican in charge of Vigil coordination asked us if it would be possible to heat up sausages for the vigil, and we let them know that the site, which is normally a dance hall, actually had a steaming unit specifically for “Varmkorv”. It is a true indication of pre-event stress that it took until the next day that Keldor thought about the question, and realized that there was only one person for whom they would want to have Varm Korv at their vigil.
One he made that realization, he took the time to drive home to pick up the Pelican medallion he’d recently carved in antler in case anyone he cared about should ever need one (which was good, as we’d forgotten our box of feast gear at home when we brought in everything else, so he picked that up, too).
The hall itself, while very spacious, looks very modern, so lots of decorations were in order. Some of our other members painted some large cloths to hang around the room, and we borrowed the Nordmark painted wall hangings showing the coats of arms of all of the heraldry registered in Nordmark (through to at least the late 1990’s, if I recall correctly), and we use the Reengarda metal painted shields, and I feel that the room looked pretty good, and nicely spacious.
We were able to set up two rings of tables, with plenty of room between the rings for walking, and still have a space in the center of the hall big enough for dancing, fencing, and other activates.
At Court on Friday night King Avery stood up, announced that Erich Olavsson Haane, who had been given a Writ to contemplate joining the order of the Pelican at the Great Pennsic War that summer, had decided to sit his vigil that evening, and give his answer to the assemble court in the morning. Then Avery went on to say that sometimes, it is nice with writs and lots of notice, and other times it is fun to surprise people, and then he summoned Baron Gilbert of Aarninmetsä before him, and charged him to contemplate admission to the order of the Pelican, and to consult with the royals to find a suitable event in the future (hint: I think it is likely to take place in Aarnimetsä). This filled me with joy, as Gilbert is a good friend, living as he does in the Canton of Kaarnemaa (Oulu), only a three hour drive from Frostheim, he is a frequent visitor here, and I have often attended their events over the years, to say nothing of the times we see one another at larger Drachenwald events elsewhere, and our work together on the Drachenwald Law Council. Besides, I have long wondered why there were no Drachenwald Pelicans north of Gyllengran (Sundsvall, Sweden), and, assuming Gilbert accepts, he would be one well north of there! But there was a moment of wonder if, perhaps, Keldor’s above mentioned guess could have been mistaken.
Not for long though… The next order of business was Jarl Æríkr, coming up to pay taxes to the Crown (King Avery was well known for the collection of Taxes to enrich the coffers of the Kingdom). Æríkr began by handing a small bag of treasure to Crown Prince Krake, to ensure future goodwill with the heirs, then he called forward a strong, well armoured, fighter from Frostheim, with whom he had entrusted the care of the main treasure chest, to protect it from the Brigands of whom King Avery had heard rumours. With that, Baron Egil Drakhufvud brought forth the chest, and presented it to the King, who promptly ate one of the gold coins, at which point Queen Cornelia took the chest from him and passed it into the keeping of her attandants, to keep the King from eating it all. “What, doesn’t everyone eat gold?” replied the King. His duty done, Baron Egil made ready to depart, but the Queen stopped him, saying that they had further business with him, so he knelt at their feet, and the order of the Pelican was brought forth, and I was very glad to have been attending Crown Prince Krake at that court, as I had a perfect view of Egil’s face as he realized what was happening, and understanding registered. It was quite clear that he hadn’t expected this.
So then the Pelicans took away their two candidates to prepare them for their Vigils and the line formed for people to go in and chat with them. There were at least 150 people on site, and quite a lot of us put our names on the list to go in, one or two at a time, to speak with them. At only a minute or three each, it still takes many hours for everyone to go in and offer words of wisdom, or a question for them to contemplate as they consider if they are ready and willing to join the order and accept the duties of the job, or even just congratulations plus or minus a gift (depending on if they were one of the few who knew in advance, or one who has gifts ready “just in case”. In the meantime there was a party set up, with plenty of snack fook (including Varmkorv) available for people waiting. Since there is a list people can wander around and talk to people, only checking in now and then to see how far down the list they have gone, and only when one’s turn is soon, does one actually stand in the queue.
I gave them both my “standard” vigil advice, to hold alway in your heart the joy in what you do in the SCA that brought you to this point in your path, and use that joy as a shield for the difficult days that come now and then, and also took a moment for more personal words. For Egil, who will be the first Pelican north of Gyllengran, I charged him to find out what other corners of Drachenwald do not yet have Pelicans, and to make himself familiar with the work of those who help those corners thrive, so that when their names are brought up in councill there are fewer people saying “Who?” because they live so far away. This is not an easy task, but I feel it is an important one. When I first moved to Frostheim, in 2011, I just assumed that, as in other Kingdoms I had lived in, there was a “local Pelican” in every branch, so of course we have at least one, and it actually took me a few years to notice that, no, there wasn’t one.
During the party Friday evening King Avery was informed that Brigands had been seen in the area, and he charged us all to be on watch for them, but, alas, the warning came too late, as at least one had already found their way into the hall. A short time later the lights went out, the sound of a bow string was heard, and when the lights returned, there was Avery, clutching a wound, breaking the arrow shaft off, but wisely leaving the point embedded for the healers to properly deal with.
On Saturday morning court both Egil and Erich were elevated to the order of the Pelican, with beautiful ceremonies, and many heartfelt speeches of their worth as individuals and the contributions they have made to the Society, and tears were shed. I have heard SCA peerages ceremonies described as kind of like being able to attend your own funeral, and thus able to hear the kind things people have to say about you, without having died. It isn’t an experience that everyone gets to have, but I hope, as this ceremony normalizes telling people you care about why they are important to you and to your community, that more of us will take the time to give such heartfelt words of love and admiration and thanks to more of their friends than just the ones being elevated, for we are all of us worthy of such recognition.
After morning court there was time for the armoured fighters to step outside for a little “gladvåld” as we say in Sweden, while the fencers took the center of the hall (without needing to move any tables!), and we dancers and some wonderful musicians took the stage, the Silent Auction took one side of the hall, and the Arts and Science Display the entry area, some merchants set up tables, and there was still plenty of room for folk who didn’t feel like partaking in any of that to relax, chat, play games, and whatever. I really like an event with a Big hall and room for everyone!
Then we had Coronation Court, where King Avery announced that, due to his injury, he was going to retire to warmer to a warmer climate and recover his strength, and Queen Cornelia, unwilling to rule alone, would take herself off to be a patron of learning at a convent or some such, so the invested their Heirs, Krake and Beatrix, and the new King and Queen of Drachenwald, who called forth the children at the event to give them a token to remember it by. There were rather a lot of them.
Then we had the feast. Since we are located rather a long way north compared to the rest of the Kingdom, it was decided to showcase local foods, and Keldor prepared two full meals–the first course is what you might have been offered, had you come this far north during the late Middle Ages, and visited one of the poor farmer settlers carving their homes into the forest, eating as much local wild foods as they can to supplement the farming and ensure survival. Cantrell toast with egg, nettle soup, and a fruit compote featuring local berries, plus apples and pears. The second course of the banquette is what you may have been offered had you visited one of the wealthy farms in the area (we didn’t have any actual nobels this far north in Sweden, but some land owners managed to mostly fill that niche nonetheless). Moose meat soup (with optional “klimpar”, or egg noodle dumplings), ham, and roasted vegetables, followed by a desert spread by the talented Ragnhild of Frostheim, who had made an amazing amount of cookies and cakes, in heraldic colours, and even a wonderful gingerbread cart patterned after a real cart that King Krake had made himself last summer.
The festivities continued well into the night, as they do, but eventually it was Sunday morning, and time to drive the first batch of people to the airport to return home, followed by breakfast, cleaning and packing up the site, and then taking the head cook home for a much needed rest.
I offer my sincere thanks to everyone who made this event possible. The head steward, Þórólfr Blót-Úlfsson (who also served as a Court Herald during the event), the head cook, Keldor av Skellitta, the cook responsible for feeding people with allergies, Petronilla Karlsdotter, and the rest of their crew, Herald in Charge: Mäster Fardäng Skvaldre, Marshall in Charge (rattan): Sir Æríkr inn hárfagri, Marshall in Charge (fencing): Lady Josephine, Musicians Gerdis från Bure, Brate Grimsfostre and Astrid i Etismarc, Wrangler for Royal attendants, Eila de Valois, and everyone who helped her and them, everyone who helped set up site and decorate, everyone who cleaned up afterwards, everyone who ran errands, did announcements, cleaned things during the event, served the feast, and who attended and added to the atmosphere of the day. Thank you all!