So, I was in Houston this past weekend, visiting my sister Julie. Hurricane Harvey had something to do with this trip. After it dumped its biblical portions of rain on the Houston area, Julie and I carved out this time—a grateful acknowledgment of the fact that she and her husband were spared any flooding.
It took a little while for our schedules to coalesce. I had the trip to Greece last month, and Sister Julie had a bunch of work travel that just wrapped up. She flew to three continents over a four-week period, I think. One of her trips was supposed to commence the week Harvey hit, but airport closures pushed it forward.
As the fates would have it, I found myself in Texas during the Texas Renaissance Festival, for its Highland Fling-themed weekend. A note about this fair: Wikipedia tells me it began in 1974, on the location of an old strip mining site. Julie has lived in Houston for the past twenty-five years, and has been an avid fan of the TRF since she discovered it, shortly after her arrival in the Lone Star State.
Through the years, there’s been an assortment of our family that’s joined her on her annual trek to the festival, held every autumn, fifty-five miles northwest of Houston. I’ve been with her once before, five or six years ago, when I purchased a little owl figure at one of the shops.
There is a specific reason behind my relatively new fascination with owls. Shortly after I began this writing journey, I dreamt I had an owl as a pet. More a familiar than a pet. In the dream, the bird was trying to tell me in an owl-lie type way that I needed to adjust my focus, and pay more attention to writing. As motivation, it sorta backfired—while I definitely give writing more focus these days, I also get easily distracted by images or depictions of owls whenever I encounter them.
Anyway, Sister Julie was in a reflective mood at this year’s festival. It might have been the effect of finally alighting at home after her round-the-world travels. Or maybe because her children are all grown now. Her daughter, Niece Emilie, would almost always join her for the Highland Fling weekend. Em just started a graduate program at Yale, so a trip back home to Texas just for the Fling was too hard to swing. 🙂
Julie pondered aloud about why she’s always loved the TRF. Was it the time of year, the South Texas air finally turning cooler? Was it the clothes and costumes? Was it Tartanic, the group that bills themselves as “Insane Bagpipe/Drum/Dance/Comedy” performers? Personally, I’d put in a vote for the scotch eggs and pear cider.
I reminded her that she’s always been drawn to that historical period:
“Remember the term paper you wrote in high school, ‘Was Medieval Woman Really…”
“Mid-Evil?” she finished my sentence. “Yeah,” she said, “How do you remember that?”
“I guess that’s the kind of stuff I remember.” Growing up the youngest of seven kids, with a nascent ambition to write, I paid attention to my older siblings’ term papers, short stories, plays, impromptu comedy skits…
Really, it’s enough for me that the Texas Renaissance Festival is just something my sister loves. As well as a lot of other people, apparently—it was packed this past Saturday. And I love seeing all the costumes, which span far beyond the Renaissance period. (For more casual togs, I was not the only one in a Star Wars t-shirt. And Astros fans were also out in force.)
And finally, I like to think of the “reawakening” meaning of renaissance. Here is an old strip mine, reborn as a verdant, pastoral, place. And what a lovely venue, and event, for the people of Houston to return to each year.