No adventuring for Sterkfontain the dwarf tonight, as I am sick as the proverbial dog and wise enough not to drive over to a household with young children in this contagious state and stay up all night with my friend Shannon - a.k.a. Dirty Sancho the gnome enchanter - and make our regular biweekly foray into deepest Darnassus and other lands magical and strange. My own little elf princess brought the plague home from 1st grade yesterday and it laid siege to my helpless carcass during a Saturday spent at work in a meeting hours from home. Fever of 102 or so, achy breaky everywhere, glands like golf balls - it has all the hallmarks of the flu and I'm not a pretty sight. Finally, though, I have a true sign that winter has arrived.
In keeping with the medieval theme of this post and my regularly scheduled on-line diversion this evening, I am hunkering down with The Pendragon Banner, the second book in the late Sylvian Hamilton's trilogy about a trader in the relics of Saints in England during King John's Interdict. Hers is a great loss to readers of intelligently written historical fiction and she captures the spirit of those times so vividly that you almost hear the leper's bell and see the stone steps of the cathedral worn down by pilgrims' knees.
The far more secular society in which I dwell has its own minor shrines and pilgrimage sites in scattered historic places among our Litchfield Hills. We do not peddle the bones of the great figures of our age for their saintly powers; we Nutmeggers leave the bone collecting to a certain secret society in New Haven. Still, we can boast John Brown's birth site in an empty lot west of Torrington - the family house at left burned many decades ago - while the house in which Harriet Beecher Stowe was born has been dismantled and crated away from its former site in Litchfield and now awaits a suitable resurrection. Add to that the grave of Uncle John Sedgwick in Cornwall Hollow and one starts to imagine these hallowed places as reliquaries for the memory of our great national epic. And possibly as an engine for heritage tourism, which is also in keeping with the tradition of commercializing of the relics of saints.
I am by inclination a reader of roadside markers and a haunter of memorials on village greens. I hoard away bits of regional lore in my rattle bag, taking satisfaction in the knowledge that Green Mountain Boys Ethan and his brother Ira Allen had roots in several Litchfield County communities, or that little Thomaston's grand Town Hall has its own Opera House. Unlike its English namesake, our Canterbury in New Milford is without a martyred Becket, but we are no strangers to pilgrimages here, especially in Autumn when the trees blaze forth in all their fiery glory.
Maybe it is the fever that speaks. But anon the Wife of Bath alyght with hot cider to loosen my constricted lungs. Rest ye well, gentles all.