Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bearskins and Ribbons

My son was about five years old and he wanted to do boy/guy stuff. Well, with three sisters and a mom that was a bit hard to find. So I had some friends who were willing to let us join some of the guy stuff they did. I am so glad that I spent the summer with the girls and my son, playing in the mountains and forest meadows. We learned what it was like to be "Mountain Men".

Coming from Pioneer heritage, it wasn't hard to invision what my great grandparents went through traveling from the east coast to Utah. Some went in wagon trains and others pushed/pulled handcarts. That summer I made us matching clothes. The girls and I had ribbon dresses, and my son, of course, the matching ribbon shirt.

We stayed with "Uncle Jack and Aunt Carol". They had one of the best camps in the greater camp. Sleeping in a lodge pole tepee, large enough to hold the four of us, a couple of other friends, and five of their own family. We had a small fire pit in the middle, and lots of bear skins, and blankets to keep us warm on those chilly nights.

To be in the camp, there could not be anything, including plastic bags, if it wasn't in the old west days; it couldn't be in the camp. So no nice patio chairs, or cooking pots. The men would dig a big pit to put the meat in and cook it all day. Women cooked the other food over an open fire. The kids and I would go find firewood, and help with the preparation.

Afternoons and evenings were especially fun. Because we had such a mixture of people from all cultures and many nations at the rendevouz, some were dressed in Native American clothing, others buckskins. We danced to the sound of the drums, braided our hair (if it was long enough), wore ribbons and beaded clips in our hair. My son was adopted by some of the men and allowed to go with them to watch the bow and arrow target shoots, black powder rifle contests. And yes, there was even a black powder rifle contest for the women. Surprise of surprises, I actually won a contest.

Our family learned to eat antelope stew, venison, and other great treats that we would never would have even tried in our own kitchen. The air was wonderful, friends magnificent, and the memories unforgetable. When I tell most people that I used to take my kids to play mountain men and indians for the summer, they look at me and laugh. But true enough. I did and recommend it for anyone with a sense of adventure.

We met attorneys from Los Angeles, writers and mechanics. There were housewives that lived for the rendevouz season just to travel in their trucks and trailers, spend the night under the stars telling stories, eating good food, and having a change of pace. It is also the time when I tried rattle snake for the one and only time. I didn't eat chicken for months after that little snack. I'd rather shoot em than eat em!

I always regretted not making it to Kalispell, Monana for nationals that year. But for you dear traveler, who has journeyed into the wild flat lands and high mountains, dressed in clothes of a by-gone era, check out the many reenactments for the Civil War, Revoluntionary War, and of course, my favorite--Mountain Men! Go on Google for a site near you.

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