Monday, August 2, 2010


One of the more colorful sights in my neck of the Upper Michigan woods this week has been the 2010 Midwest Primitive Rendezvous, a gathering of hundreds of "living history" re-enactors who relive the era of Lewis & Clark (approx. 1800-1840) on a bend of the Ontonagon River near Ontonagon, Michigan.

For several years I've had a keen interest in the group, although I'm not a member. When I first visited the rendezvous in 2006, also in the same place, it gave me the idea for Hang Fire, my novel in progress.

These folks really try to live as Americans did two centuries ago. Their white canvas tent cities are redolent of wood smoke and frying meat, even though one often spots digital cameras, cell phones and "Fruit of the Loom" labels under the reproductions of the buckskins, breechclouts and kilts the mountain men and women of old wore.

Most of all, they're photogenic. Here's a selection of shots taken yesterday, more than half of them (and the best ones) by the Lady Friend:

Fringed buckskins, belted tunics and sashes mark the well-dressed re-enactor.

The Rendezvous is a family affair, a week-long camporee.

This was your great-great-great-grandmother's kitchen on the frontier.

Cooking with wood smarts the eyes and soots the clothes.

The Rendezvous eateries, open to both participants and the public, feature artery-stopping menus.

Kitchen kindling must be chopped and split every day.

Trade goods of all kinds are available for swap and sale.

The big boys liked to make noise with their muzzle-loading toys, many of them hand-crafted flintlocks.

A well-turned-out Scottish immigrant frontiersman on the firing line.

Women participated on the rifle range, too.

Most re-enactors are open and friendly, but this lad clearly prefers his privacy.

Their morning chores were to haul water and exchange secrets.

And some were just bashful.