why I’d make a terrible Amish (or Victorian) lady: a musing about adventure and clothing…

I live near Lancaster County PA, notable for its bucolic landscapes and well tended Amish farms. My own PA German ancestors are more or less related to those traditional farmers who have eschewed most modern tech for the kind of tech (big strong horses and handmade gear) that will keep us all alive when the zombie apocalypse comes. And my relatives are also pretty good at growing stuff and fixing stuff and building stuff. And I have a sword collection, so, yeah, we’re good.

I had a brainfart this morning about how clothing doesn’t just show the world something about who we are (or who we want to be), it defines what we do.

As a little girl, I was stuck in cute pink dresses fairly often.

To this day I hate dresses and anything pink. It meant you couldn’t have fun. You couldn’t play with the animals, mess around in the mud puddles and the temporary wetland that appeared in the back field when the snow melted (where I staged my own True Life Nature Adventures), ride ponies or play in the snow.

I grew up mostly in jeans, with ponies and mud puddles, grumbling about the pink crap whenever it happened.

Picture
me on Ravenwood Stable’s Magic at a 3-phase event show in Maryland in the 80s

I showed my horses in local and 4-H shows, donning the gear required; western or English, or somewhat formal dressage breeches and coats, and hard hats for safety.

I discovered living history in the form of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, the Longship Company, and a related Maryland outfit called Markland (viking age). I wore the outfits and armour of adventure, not the finery of ladies. Only once did I don a dress; to ride my unicorn in a “hunt” at an event.

baz unicorn
me on my Welsh/Arabian Bazraf at an SCA event

Mostly though, I looked like this…

me on Lor at a Markland event

Later I met friends who were involved in the buckskinner/fur trade era (think Last of the Mohicans) living history, and I donned buckskins and baggy shirts. My mustang mare didn’t take so well to the McClellan saddle though, it didn’t fit her properly and I ended up riding bareback the rest of the week at the event.

Rebecca on Lor, with friends at the Great Eastern Primitive Rendezvous

Somewhere in there I learned more about the Native cultures that surrounded us… I hung out with people and danced and made some appropriate clothing (similar to the buckskinner stuff) to bridge the gap between new friends and my own culture. Here was a different kind of female power, defined and shown by clothing that said something about who you were related to and where you came from.

After having grown up watching Sea Hunt, Flipper and Jacques Cousteau specials, I finally learned to scuba dive. In Pennsylvania, this is accomplished in cold water quarries (set up for diving), in a full wetsuit. Struggling into one is like wrestling an octopus from the inside, and is more than a bit claustrophobic, but once you are in the water, and the icy water has crept into the suit, then warmed… you are a dragon in flight.

2001-10-28 Gourd of the Rings (20)b
carving the Gourd of the Rings underwater in October, bluegill watching

I discovered kayaking as the dive club disintegrated and life changed. Here, again, you had to wear clothing that dried fast, protected you from the sun, and fit close, because for me, kayaking is NOT a dry sport, you are in the water as much as out of it. Even in the boat, your butt is below the waterline, and on the hottest day, you can cool off readily. If it’s cold, you have to add layers; fleece, windproof layer, or a wetsuit. No heavy anything, you need to float. And yes, don’t forget your PFD.

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The huskies found me about the same time… there’s something you cannot do in a dress…

Even on wheels, you need some real outdoor clothing…

and a helmet… just in case…

me with Denali, Chase, Leggy and friend’s dog Willow

Well, there it is. As much as I enjoy watching Victoria on PBS, I could never deal with her wardrobe.

Also done done done with winter….

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yes, that is a tardis…

 

 

 

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