I started my trek by sneaking out of work at 2:45 and busting down to my house to kiss Cwellan goodbye and pick up a blanket I’d forgotten to pack. Then it was back onto the highway for a couple hours. When I got to rt. 80 I got so ridiculously lost following Yahoo directions that I stopped at a pizza place to find out how to get back to 80, and at some guy’s pumpkin selling farm, to ask directions. Then I saw the signs. Relief! Excitement! Confusion! The signs say “September 16-18”? That's...last weekend...Hmmmmm maybe it’s, they’re… playing a joke? Playing a joke, yay! I like these people ; )
When I pulled up to the main field I knew I was in the right place. I hopped out of my car an commenced looking hopefully confused and calling “h-helloo…?” Until a Hat-wearing friendly Hi-I’m-Scott came over, gave me a big hugg and said “Welcome Home.”
This was a little weird at first, but gradually I came to understand fully the truth behind these words.
So I dragged my loot over to a likely spot and Scott helped my set up my mega-humungoid too big tent. With everything inside, I deposited my foodstuffs in the kitchen and put the VW in an out of the way location. We all crowded around for dinner, and introductions started, and the food was AMAZING (Thanks Chef!).
The fire was lit and everyone paid rapt attention to Chad as he went through his fire/fuel safety talk. The fire seemed to want us to move (it was spitting at us like nobody’s business!) so we repositioned a bit. The fuel bucket was lit and subsequently put out, silly questions were asked, and then we were ready to BURN!
Drums started up. Fire rose and fell. The night sky was painted with streaks of our light. Girls became increasingly naked. I danced with Cady and I drummed and I spun a little bit of poi. I contact juggled, and met a couple people that I knew (it was inevitable). I borrowed a pair of Casey’s Fire Devil Sticks, and got beautiful little chain bites on my hands and wrists. Much talking, singing and dancing. We set roots in this place and let the fire make it home.
And we winked out like stars into our tents, and dreams brought us aspirations for new tricks, new flows, new rhythms and we slept as we discovered ancient vibrations for the very first time.
I woke to the sounds of voices and low crackling of a newly revived fire. I wandered up to the kitchen to nose up some tea, and Kevin and hook girl agreed to go swimming with me. We were joined a touch later by drummers John and Linda. On the way back we wandered to the rope swing, climbed the tower and I wimped out while Kevin took the plunge. Then Breakfast. Oh, breakfast. Oh the eggs, oh, the sauce. Mornay sauce? So good. As our first official meal together, we made a lot of introductions and re-introductions and tried to start taking it all in.
After breakfast, the bulk of the throng moved to the field for registration, the marking of the hands, and the start of classes for the day. We filled the field and moved. Hoops, staves, poi, darts, fans, dancers and torches. So many performers unified in the quest to find more ways to show fire. We twisted our bodies like frames around the practice equipment, to find the perfect patterns. We danced over each other and the ground. We watched and thought, I’ll never get that good, and the and then we proved each other wrong.
Lunch came and more classes, more swimming, and I finally tried the rope swing. We taught and listened and learned by teaching until dusk, when our thoughts turned to the blaze. Chad taught us safety again and this time we weren’t shy to spin. By this time the DJ booth was working, so we got to spin to new sounds interspersed with the drums. Around the fire, bells rattles whistles and drums made their songs heard, bodies flew and darted, voices lifted and fell. The energy was intense as Chef brought his spinning closer to the fire and wall between the pit and the fire field was breached. Later on sparks flew off the floating dock as the fire made it out to the river.
Today I woke before dawn to the sound of howling in the distance. I sat by the embers and teased the coals back to small flames, enough to dry Scott’s beautiful drum and warm my punished feet. I drummed softly so as not to wake the sleeper by the fire, and kept drumming to help the sun come up. Chad said good morning to me and stoked the fire. At sunrise, others started venturing out of their tents for chatting by the fire, spinning, doing yoga, and resting. Some of us had to leave so early, and stole away with few goodbyes. Some of us lingered, swam, and ate. Some of us couldn’t bear to go-yet, so we packed up and then came back to sit just a little while longer. I helped take down the streamers from the soccer net and turned them into FIRE (reminiscent) POMPOMS. We cleaned up, and said our lingering goodbyes. Then I left for home. Cwellan laughed and Dijit, our roommate told me that I looked really sexy. I sunk into a hot bath and soon into a warm soft bed. Now I have only the scars to remind me, and soon I will only have the memories, and the anecdotes by my new friends who will remind me of the things I will forget. So I’m writing this down to remember.