Lives of the Pennsic Saints

By Guillaume de St. Ferriol
Features Reporter, PI

For many people, playing in the SCA evolves into a life-long hobby. This may be doubly true for Lilias from the Shire Quintavia who, for her 15th Pennsic, is introducing her second generation to the SCA. Although Pennsic veterans, this year Lilias and her husband have brought along their 17 month old son and it’s a whole new Pennsic all over again.
Pennsic can bombard even grizzled SCAdians with overwhelming stimuli, and like all facets of child rearing, even the epic nature of the war is intensified when diffracted through parenthood. “My husband and I really love making the trip out every August, but we had to take last year off.” Now she says one of the joys of the event is to see Pennsic through her baby’s eyes. “He’s fascinated by all the people and tents and everywhere we look there’s something new to be amazed by,” she says. The legendary generosity of Pennsic spirit is also shown daily since, “Everyone who interacts with us is so sweet!”
However, taking care of a toddler really has its ups and downs. Beyond the never-ending work as well as the extra baby-gear required, Lilias explains that, “With this heat it can be so hard to keep him comfortable and hydrated.” Once the baby’s not happy, no one is happy. Also, just like back home, being a new parent can not only be exhausting, but a bit isolating. Even though she loves her camp and campmates, there will always be a little difference from folks who are all in the early 30’s with no kids. In addition to her husband taking his turns, she has coped with some regular Breakfast and Baby meet ups at the playground. Unfortunately, one “Pennsic for Babies” class she had hoped to take had a 9am start time, which proved to be a bit impractical. “I found that I needed a class that would tell me how I could possibly have made it to this class!”, she exclaimed. With a baby-sitting shift imminent, Lilias from the Shire Quintavia expressed another of the more subtle gifts of parenthood. “Since my me-time is more limited, I find that I really appreciate the things that I do sneak in.” She had a list of classes to enjoy and absolutely intended to poke at least a few people with a sword before the end of the war.
Lilias has been with Shire Quintavia for about seven years. She resettled from nearby Carolingia where she was introduced to our gentle populace at her college. She has always had an interest in medieval subjects, but like many of us, found Ren fairs just a little “too goofy” and she was thrilled to have stumbled on to something more substantial and participatory. Now a 16th century English fencer, her early entry was through dancing and an active cooking guild. Many SCA chapters might learn an essential lesson from considering what really hooked her into the Society - an organized fencing course that was offered by the college chapter. This consisted of an eight-week class, which not only provided more structure and a sense of progress, it also provided the 15 people in the group with a cohort that they could share the journey with, which gave them an immediate peer group. Out of her original class, more than half of the newbies have remained as active and serious SCAdians close to twenty years later.
The richness of the Society also brought Lilias together with her husband, who she met through fencing at local events. Having a partner who also plays in the SCA does make it easier to remain connected to the hobby she loves. Even though it is a little harder to get out to weekly practices, she is still able to get in her chops with pickup matches while her husband shares baby duties. Although her husband remains a bit more active and has become perhaps one of the premier fencing masters in the East, she did find it necessary to take some time because of the demands of being the parent of a young child.
Whether this story of SCA romance and marriage will naturally carry over for their son, only time will tell. Cuter than a baroque button in his garb, they have not picked a SCA name for their son yet. Lilias says, “We will certainly continue to bring him to events with us, especially day trips, but we need him to be able to choose his own name.” Pennsic is the SCA’s premier event but it is only the public face of our vast and fulfilling hobby. At times overlooked by those friends who have not yet seen its appeal, it is inspiring to recognize that there must be something special to a Society that was the primary venue to bringing together this young family who show every sign of carrying this “hobby” through yet another generation.