Not much to do with the title of this post, save that when I began writing it, the local classical station is playing Bela Bartok’s version of three Romanian folk dances. I was reflecting on how much fun it was, two weekends ago, to be with my books at the Folkfest in New Braunfels – to sit under the trees by the white building that houses the museum of hand-crafted furniture, listening to the music from the pavilion across the way … everything from traditional German songs, to country-western, and covers of rock music by a local teenage band. There were animals on display – a whole farmyard of them, and a pair of camels, as well. Reenactors came and went, demonstrating their craft, and their mastery of black-powder gun and cannon-fire, as well as simply astounding displays of bladed weaponry. It was all very reassuring, watching the families, the parade of children in costumes on Sunday afternoon, led by an accordion player in lederhosen and an honor guard of Scouts with flags. The children’s masquerade march was a custom first established by the schoolmaster of New Braunfels’ public school more than a hundred and sixty years ago. Life goes on in the Shire, from day to day; much has it always has done.

The very normality, the ordinariness of that weekend was refreshing, reassuring, even. Go away from the internet, go away from the broadcast news and especially the poison of social media; ignore the increased cost of things like gasoline and eggs, and packets of potato chips (and other items) that are fuller of air, or reduced in quantity while remaining the same price – and everything is still normal … sort of. There are increasing numbers of posts on the local Next Door about porch pirates, thefts from parked cars and front yards, terribly antisocial neighbors and drivers on the roads with reckless, Third World habits regarding stop signs and lights, courteous yielding, the necessity for maintaining insurance coverage and remaining in the area awaiting law enforcement after a fender-bender or worse. But all in all, still blissfully normal in the bit of the Shire where I live. One has the feeling of being on the edge of a smoldering volcano, though, wondering when – not if – it will all blow.

It makes the simple joys of two weekends ago all the more precious. My next-door neighbor has relished all the recent local news outlet coverage of the Fiesta celebrations – the parades, Night in Old San Antonio, and every one of the associated events. All those events were cancelled three years ago over the Covid panic; that was, I think, the moment when I realized exactly how panicked our local government was, over an epidemic which was not much more than the seasonal flu.

So now, life goes on in the Shire, much as it has always done, living on the edge of the volcano – one eye on the horizon, the other appreciating normality. Precious, fragile normality. I touched on this in the last novel, set in World War II, where earth-shattering events were going on … and yet the main characters were engrossed in simple, small, domestic things – shoes for the growing children, going to a movie or a dance, what could be fixed for the next meal, knitting socks, prepped for Christmas presents, or the next birthday party for children.

Life goes on in the Shire, much as it has done from day to day. Those simple joys are all the more precious. Comment as you wish.

9 thoughts on “Folkways”

  1. Getting away from the internet and interacting with people is amazing! There certainly is something precious in holding on to “normalcy” even in the face of craziness. Though, there’s a book by Kirkpatrick Hill – “A Year of Miss Agnes” where she mentions that up there in Alaska, a lot of the state was barely aware that WWI was going on. (However, that wasn’t the case with WWII, of course!)

  2. Life in Tolkien’s Shire went on normally because the likes of Strider outside the Shire kept the evil at bay.

    Life in our local Shires goes on sort-of-normally despite Biden* and his Swamp Creatures doing everything they can to bring evil in, and to start wars with countries that don’t want to fight us but will be capable of destroying us if “Our Guys” succeed in starting their wars.

    If only we lived in a democracy where the will of the people was important, and we had “Representatives” who actually represented us.

  3. Gavin Longmuir
    May 1, 2023 at 10:02 pm

    Life in our local Shires goes on sort-of-normally despite Biden*
    Remember it was a villain from outside who convinced a couple of Shire-folk to let them in… and it went downhill from there.

  4. I was a child in WWII and remember much of it. I remember “red points” to buy meat and our huge “Victory Garden” which was planted and weeded by a number of friends, and by me of course. Some of my pretty cousins taught me to say, “Dugout Doug is a rat out rat.” I wrote out my first grade version of “v-mail” and have a reply from my cousin in north Africa. We did not lose any family members but some of my friends had lost fathers. It was an innocent time in spite of the war.

  5. Hi Sarge,
    Are all of your new books only available as Kindle books? I need to complete my set of Luna City books.

  6. You are lucky Sgt Mom – out here I think I am sitting in the volcano. People will pass you on the highway (in town!) going over 100

    I think with all the craziness going on it seems spiritual – Things that would get one locked up 20 years ago we are now supposed to applaud and consider normal.

    In a headline yesterday in the WSJ I had to smile – the “legal” sellers of pot are now complaining because market-wise they are at a disadvantage – with all the the taxes they have to pay the illicit growers are undercutting them.

    And here I thought that was the whole selling point of that initiative – “make it legal” and drive the crime out of it.

    Maybe your little burg is like a Twilight Zone episode

  7. Hi, Jeff – no, all but the latest Lone Star, and Luna City 10 and 11 are also available in print. I also have three Luna City Compendium volumes, and when I finish Luna City 12, there will be four compendium collections in print versions

  8. You have 700,000+ orcs getting ready to storm the border as we speak, and your own government is violating its own laws on an industrial scale in order to usher them in. You might usefully be talking to your county sheriff about using the 10th Amendment to enforce Federal law if the Feds are themselves felons, which they are; and keep the orcs out of the Shire if not the country, and arrest any Federal thug who tries to stop him, and call up an armed posse to back him up in any or all of this. But no. You’d rather muddle through.

    You aren’t even going to be here in a few years.

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