Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Taking the Woven Viking Pieces Home!

From day one it was a known end to the whole adventure of the 'viking-weavings' that we would have to part. That they would go north to Newfoundland and I would stay back in the Annapolis Valley wondering how they were doing.

Fortunately we did decide (my hubby and I) to make arrangements to hand deliver the pieces to the sod house at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland instead of using the mail system.

First of all I have to say that..... our luggage didn't arrive with us on the flight from Halifax to Deer Lake, where we had rented a car to make the four hundred and some kilometer trek up to the top of the Northern Peninsula.

However, somehow I had had some foresight, for I had traveled with the weaving in my hand luggage, and put the warm clothes in the big suitcase - which meant that although I wasn't altogether really warm for the 18 hours it took for the luggage to be delivered to us at least I wasn't having a complete fit and break down worrying about where the woven pieces had gone. Phew, is all I can say.

We stayed at a B&B called Valhalla Lodge in Gunner's Cove  a 5 -10 mins drive from the actual Parks Canada Site down the road.

It was the perfect spot for us, cosy, friendly, good breakfast, movies to borrow - and Yes I know, why would you want to watch movies when you are on vacation - well, in this instance it was because the weather was not exactly cooperating all the time and then it was nice to hit the hay early and enjoy some entertaining which didn't freeze off neither nose nor fingertips.

We had gone up to see the site in the morning to do the final measurements and lo and behold when we returned to our room just before lunch our suitcases had arrived by taxi just moments before.  This was rather grand since..... I had packed the scissors and pins and other tools needed for the final fitting of the pieces in the suitcase which wouldn't fit into the belly of the airplane.

In the shared living room I spent about 4 hours with the wood-stove busily humming in front of me doing the last hems on the curtains.

And then.... after lunch we went up to the site again, this time to hang the pieces in their new home.

There was one more little detail to take care off and that was sewing on  the tags for the archives on each piece and that.....
I could do sitting in the longhouse listening the the vikings (well, viking re-enactors) talk about the coming season, opening day was on June 1st and this was happening on May 28 - so time for organizing and planning was beginning to run short.

Anita Campbell the curator from Parks Canada in Halifax gave me a hand feeding the cord through the top casing on the curtain - having forgotten to bring a large safety pin to do this we used a slightly pointed stick which some one had started to whittle for ....   I don't know what, but it worked for us and quickly the cord was in place.
The cord was made with the leftover warp using a lucett, a tool which a friend had given me just recently and supposedly harks back to the vikings. Bjorn the Beautiful, the viking chief at least recognized it and said he had a larger version which he used when fishing, for storing the fishing line.

I could hang the first piece where it was meant to cover the storage space. There was a square nail made by the black smith in each post on the sides of the storage space.

To the right of the space barely visible in the photo is an alcove, with a feather bed covered in woolen cloth and a thick feather pillow. There would have also been sheep, caribou and/or other skins there to keep the person warm in his sleep.

And here is the other alcove and storage space with its curtain.

On the two swinging doors which separated the sleeping person from the rest of the room were the beginnings of beautiful traditional viking carvings.
Swinging doors as in "John Wayne and pushing the swinging doors into the saloon open in front of his brave face" kind of doors.

This is a very small room and this was precious private space since everyone else would sleep out in the communal living space in the longhouse.

The longhouse was amazingly cozy and quiet in spite of the howling wind, rain and fog outside. Originally warmed with wood fires in pits down along the length of the house the site uses gas fires to lessen fire hazards and also to lessen smoke inhalation for visitors and re-enactors alike.
After the gas-fires were installed though it was discovered that mold grows very happily in the fairly damp and rarely really warm environment found in a sod house and that the smoke from the traditional wood fires actually works as important mold control. Thus about once a month wood fires are lit and kept going to smoke up the rooms in order to keep the house and the artifacts mold free.