Friday, December 16, 2011

A Bit Confused About the Time

Posted: December 5, 1:40 pm | (permalink) | (0 comments)
“If there was such a thing as time travel,” explained Grace Sparrow, the woman behind the counter at the ship’s store of our new marina, “it would end up like this city. People in the costumes from every era walk the streets. You never know who you’re going to see next.” I had just gone into the office to find out our new mailing address and a few other basics as we began to acclimate to our new city for the winter; I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond to this unexpected insight.

In the buildings of Annapolis’ historic district, the most visible time period seems to be Colonial and Revolutionary War. Although there are other historical stories to be told, including those of the watermen and those who arrived as slaves, virtually all of the tour guides I’ve seen who wear period costumes are dressed as characters from this colonial period, so when I think of the historic district of Annapolis, a fairly consistent theme dominates. (I always appreciate the zany anachronism of tour guides in period costume traveling the cobbled streets on Segways. So I should say, consistent except for the Segways, and to me that’s a visual joke that’s just plain fun.)

But here in St Aug, there is no such consistency. The town is so rich in history, one local told me proudly, that almost every square foot of land has artifacts. Any time it rains hard, he said, there is a good chance that potshards or other bits may rise to the surface right in your backyard. In the 450 years since the Timucuan Indians saw the first Europeans arrive at the area that would become St Augustine, the city had been under flags of several nations: Spain, then Britain, then Spain again, and then the US and the Confederacy and the US again. As we wandered the streets during our first few days in town, we encountered costumed representatives of all those periods - a conquistador, a British soldier, a pirate. I visualized the alien bar scene from the original Star Wars movie. If there was indeed such a thing as a time machine as Grace fantasized, perhaps its guide control is broken, stranding all these folks here in a jumbled chronological mess. At the same time, I suppose it could be argued that traveling by sailboat is rather archaic as well … so I’m guessing we’ll fit in just fine here.

[photo: We boaters sometimes joke about the cost of marine supplies as “piracy” but this might be carrying the joke a bit too far! Grace Sparrow manages our ships store and books trips for the pirate-themed charter boat Black Raven that sails from our dock. ]

[photo: Robert Paxton stands guard, and other soldiers form up during the British Night Watch, a fun weekend of reenactment events commemorating the British period in St Aug’s history. The British controlled St Augustine from 1763-1784.]

[photo: We found this 18th century tavern and just HAD to check it out! There was no TV to watch the game in those days (heck, there wasn’t even a game), but there was an entertainer with a delightful repertoire of bawdy songs!].

[photo: At the City Gate, reenactors prepare to demonstrate the changing of the (Spanish) guard ca 1740.]

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