I meet an accountant. She tells me about her career hobby: her involvement with the Society For Creative Anachronism (SCA) where she is known as ‘Lady Aiofe Cno Capaill, recipe ’ which means ‘dark horse.’ What is the SCA? “Basically we do 600 to 1600 (a.d.) everything, from Middle Ages to the Renaissance period. We cut off right before the Victorian era starts.” The SCA has similarities to those Renaissance Faires you may have heard about where they speak in old English and wear period costumes. “Where we differ is that our events and fights are not choreographed. They are real time, in life. I have no idea what my opponent is going to be doing and I have to move and judge accordingly.” These real battles consist of traditional archery, heavy weapons fighting, rapier, trebuchets and siege weapons.
The SCA is also devoted to supporting crafts such as fiber arts, weaving, metal smithing, spinning, hand sewing, coin making… “If it happened during the middle ages, we have someone within our 30,000 worldwide membership who knows something about it and can recreate it.”
Lady Aiofe Cno Capaill first became involved in the organization when she was 15. Now she is the archery captain for the Madison chapter, but no one calls it the ‘Madison Chapter,’ they call it ‘The Barony of Jararvellir.’ “We use live tip steel arrows in our practices. You can get killed playing this game.” I ask her if she has ever seen that happen. “I have come across quite a few people who have had some very close calls. We have a very large event in Pennsylvania that’s two weeks long.” Approximately 15,000 people show up for this every summer, ready to cast aside modern times for a good ole European middle age lifestyle. “I have seen individuals fall on the battle field from heat stroke. I have heard of heart attacks. I’ve heard of broken bones. Bruises are absolutely beautiful when you get hit by a rattan sword— even if you’re wearing two sheets of metal.”
At last year’s gathering Lady Aiofe Cno Capaill was listening to the frogs call when “a group of Frenchmen from France in full regalia stumbled past me singing drunk French songs.” That was a quintessential moment for her, and precisely why she goes every year.
Today she has opted for the Victorian hotel experience of the Pfister because she is celebrating her one-month anniversary with her boyfriend. She’s known him for years as a neighbor, but until a month ago they both “honest to God hated each other,” as he put it. Up until last month Lady Aiofe Cno Capaill assumed her neighbor, the very social, ‘good-with-children’ single male was actually a danger to her teenage daughter. “I thought he was a pedophile.” Hearing this explanation her boyfriend both groans and grins, “Thanks.” Lady Aiofe Cno Capaill defends her former assumption by describing herself as a mama bear. “Very overprotective and mean!” agrees the boyfriend. Then, a month ago, he came over to help her clean her house. While he was there they hit it off: talking some sci-fi, some 80’s, some 90’s, some steam punk, some reenactment…
And that is how Lady Aiofe Cno Capaill began her romance with Berisat the Air Pirate.