Dearest readers, while I await photos from last weekend's Celtic Fest in Flagstaff, allow me a few word snapshots.
* Opening morning at Foxglenn Park: Kilts everywhere. Tents everywhere. Pirates are everywhere too and are welcomed with open arms. Why pirates here? Many of them came from Scotland and Ireland. Captain Bartholomew Burgundy makes a return appearance. His first impression: "Ah never sawr so much green in th' middlela desert!"
* The 1745 Jacobite Society, of which I am a member, is encamped on the far end of the field. Celtic music drifts over from one of two performance tents. Bagpipes skirl in another direction, accompanying the Highland dancers. But right in front of us are the caber and stone tossers, giving new meaning to the words heavy lifting -- all in kilts.
* My official Highland look: Royal Stewart tartan, puffy Jacobite shirt, Cameron kilt pin (for me Queen Mum's side of the family), white hose with Stewart flashes and buckled shoes, but I've ditched the balmoral for a blue Jacobite bonnet with a white cockade, the mark of a man loyal to the Bonnie Prince. "Are you in the White Rose society?" somebody asks at the hotel. It's a lot better than being asked if my tricorn is a pirate hat.
* The French flintlock musket is back in my hands again and it fires like a charm, almost every time. Our fearless leader, on the other hand, keeps having trouble with his ancient pistol. At least with the musket, I have the bayonet if it fails to fire. Oh soggy Loch, I forgot it...
* What's a "farb?" It's a re-enactor's term for something not period-correct, like drinking water from a plastic bottle instead of a tin cup. I have to watch how I hydrate, secretly taking a pour into the proper drinking apparatus.
* Sixty bucks is a lot to pay for a decent sporran, but the quality is worth it. No purse jokes. I've heard 'em all.
* I knew rain was coming, and it did -- three times on Saturday. The first shower chased all of us into the tent, which was filled with pirates in addition to highlanders, and we had to wait out not just the rain, but marble-sized hail. It bounced off the grass, a sea of white dots leaping over the blades of grass until it settled. We got another shower two hours later, and then one just before closing time. Unfortunately, rain soaked two of our wonderful French aristocratic sympathizers, leaving the Count and Countess soggy from wig to toe to pannier. Alliances do come with sacrifices.
* The best place to be in the Celtic parade: behind the belly dancers. Unlike my Fourth of July exploits, I kept formation this time and didn't shout a single "Huzzah!" Of course, I was a little distracted.
* Careful around those Highland lasses -- they know how to fence... or they're learning.
* The Wicked Tinkers absolutely jam. I knew it would be impossible to listen to their rollicking style of Celtic tribal music without jigging, and I was right. Hearing them play "Wallop The Cat" is an experience that defies description. Especially enjoyable: watching them twirl their kilts up, an uplifting spectacle rewarded by the audience with tosses of dollar coins attached to blue ribbons. If you've heard the "first prize" story, you know the reference. If you haven't, ask a Scotsman.