Dragons and Knights...
It is hard to say just when my interest in the medieval and all things Viking first started, but no doubt an early interest was started by such movies as
The Adventures of Robin Hood
, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
. Later on such movies as The Lion in Winter
and A Man for All Seasons
transported me into a world that I seemed very comfortable with and enjoyed visiting. My father read Bullfinch’s Mythology to me when I was very young. The seeds were sewn...
I was graduated from San Francisco State University in 1970 with a degree in biology and spent two years at UCSF learning to be a radiologic technologist and was introduced to a new imaging modality called ultrasound. Ultimately ended up being employed by Kaiser in Terra Linda in 1982 as a diagnostic medical sonographer. There was a rather full figured lady employed there who had long red hair and one day I noticed a brooch she was wearing. It was a beautiful and delicately done cloisonné image of a dragon and I stopped to admire it. She asked me if I liked dragons and knights in shining armor and I said I did, and that moment changed my life. I was put in touch with a group of folks who taught me how to make my armor (Mark Fenn) and how to fight with shield and sword (Paul Porter aka Duke Paul of Belatrix). Through them I met Henrik, Ed and Rick.
The ultimate accomplishment into the realm of the medieval was traveling to England and France in 2006 with Ed and Henrik and participating as a Norman archer in the recreation of the Battle of Hastings on the very grounds where it took place in the town of Battle, about 5 miles from Hastings. The experience of marching out onto the field of battle along with 150 of my fellow archers and see over 1,500 Saxons aligned along the summit of Senlac Ridge, to say nothing of the hundred Norman cavalry and thousands of Norman infantry arraigned in the fields below the ridge was the ultimate experience of a lifetime of two lifetimes. The battle became so real to us that we forgot we were just actors on a grand stage and we became, for awhile, real medieval archers in the real battle. You had to have been there...
Getting through security and customs in England, France and the good ol’ US of A with our bows and arrows was another experience entirely, and not without its anxiety and humor.
To make a long story short, through Henrik, Ed and Rick I was introduced to Jack and the Vikings of Bjornstad in 2007 and participated in my first event on my 60th birthday in Santa Rosa. To teach and demonstrate to people interested in Vikings and that period of history and drawing on my readings, experiences and knowledge of a lifetime, along with my friends of over thirty years, is a pleasure and reward for a lifetime of living in this modern world and that of our past. We hold that distant mirror that reflects the light of the Viking world into our modern age.
When not being a Viking of Bjornstad, I no longer make my mundane living as a medical sonographer for Kaiser and was, arguably, one of the oldest continuously working sonographers in the country. Now retired, I am having a lot of fun ‘working’ as a docent (with Rick Mantegani) on the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, the last remaining WWII Liberty Ship in unaltered condition in the world. She is berthed at Pier 45 at Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco, so come visit! Otherwise I am probably out hiking in the Fairfax and Mt. Tamalpais or just being a heating pad for my middle aged calico cat to sleep upon. Life is filled with unexpected and delightful pleasures.
Photos © Hughes Photography