The Vikings Are Coming         

viking with swordSpring: a time when a young man's fancy turns to explosives. An old man's fancy turns to balls of lead. Spring is the launch of reenactor season. Reenactors are men, and a few women, who love to relive the days of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War as a hobby.

Horses and gunpowder are the order of the day. Campfires and sleeping in tents are the order of the night. Mouth harps; fifes and drums; chaw; peeing on trees, wiping with poison ivy. Fun stuff. Redcoats and the Militiamen, Damn Yankees and the Johnny Rebs, fought on American soil. They were volunteers but many were drafted, arriving by foot, wagons, or on horseback. Now they are all volunteers, arriving by Winnebago, Ram Tough Dodge Pick-em-up trucks, or C-class Mercedes.

Picking a side is preordained. Your grandfather determined that by where he was born. No vikings on shipPennsylvanians wear red coats and no Georgian will wear blue. Don't think the officers of your regiment or unit won't check out your lineage better than any thoroughbred horse.

As much as I like explosives in the woods, beans and pork bellies, and drinking from a tin cup, if I was going to be a reenactor, I would have to go with being a Viking. I would choose to be an Ericson. (Ericcson) like the phone people. Leif Ericson, Son of Eric the Red! ARRRR. Brother and spouse and father of the Thors. Thorvaldr, Thorsteinn, Thorgunna, and Thorkell. They romped all over Greenland, Iceland and the North Atlantic. Thors all over the place.

Thors founded Dublin. Word has it that one bad day Tykir was feeling particularly down because his name wasn't Thor. He wandered to the local pub inquiring about a book on suicide. The barmaid looks over her spectacles and says, "Bollocks to that Tykir, ye'ed noo be bringin' it back."

momIf one chooses to be a reenactor, why not choose to reenact the good life? Vikings pillaged and plundered. Like visiting a flea market in the summer. They were known for reciprocity: give and take. Vikings ate well. Lamb, veal, and potatoes. Their bellies were naturally round. Not like the Civil War reenactors who get their roundness from Budweiser. Vikings were required to carry a weapon. Similar to large audio speakers in cars today, the size and number determined status among a Viking's peers. Vikings built ships and screwed around on the ocean - or other large bodies of water, like fjords. Vikings like to be clean, they bathed once a week, on Saturday. laugardagur/laurdag/lørdag/lördag is Saturday in Vikingspeak. It means, "wash my back Thor."

Yeah, if I'm a reenactor, I'm a Viking.

Except I would be Minnesota in July.

Mark Van Patten writes a blog called Going Like Sixty and has been married to the same woman since 1968.

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