As one might find while reading over my previous posts, there is a certain theme across all of them, wherein you will find a great number of people in the Society who are absolutely convinced that they are better than you are, those who will work feverishly towards stepping on the heads of everyone around them until they get their name on a fancy piece of paper, then immediately drop off the face of the planet, claiming their esteem in regards to that specific little gem for the rest of their SCA career. However, one must endeavor to realize that there are those that put the factor of being period-pretty first, often to their own detriment, or to that of others, in an entirely non-community way. No no, dear readers, what I speak of today is not the aforementioned Arse-hats, but the period-anachronist equivalent of the redneck who's famous last words were "Here, hold my beer".
Yes, what I speak of is Safety, that lovely thing that everyone seems to take for granted until the moment it's not there, as is true for most things people take for granted. I don't speak of things like security, or meteors falling from the sky, but, as I'll attempt at my best to pardon the phrase, something quite a bit more mundane.
There seems to be a growing emphasis on being period in Everything we do, from our cooking, to our clothing, to the mannerisms we display, and everything else we can imagine. While that's all well and good, there is a reason that technology today is different in many ways from that of the past. We don't often put leeches on people in the field, we don't often find ourselves wearing what amount to leather-soled spandex in public places(Hey, what you do in your own home is your business), and we're not really ones to put ourselves in silly plate armor and swing sticks at each other. Okay, maybe that last one was taking a bit of a cheap shot, so yes, we do do that, my bad. However, the relatively "unsafe" things we do in the Society are still, at their core, made safe in many ways. Our armor must be made of specific thicknesses of materials and be padded appropriately, our headgear and kidney guards must be sturdy and meet specs as well. However, beyond what is "Required", there are ridiculous levels of liberties taken when it comes to what they consider Safe.
Touching briefly on the Heavies, it is a common myth among the heavy fighter circuit here in An Tir, it seems, that human beings were meant to walk on the balls of their feet completely. Now, this is partially true, in our most underevolved state, but as human beings began to walk places more than they did run, we began to learn to walk and stand more efficiently, straightening our knees and walking heel to toe. While this puts more wear and tear on our knees over time, it also puts a bit less on our ankles. Now, with that in mind, there are several things that become important. Ankle support, for one. Toe coverage, for another. And finally, Arch support. Many of our events are held at fairgrounds, yes, with all sorts of unseen subterranean hazards. i.e. partially buried bottlecaps, glass, etc(I have seen fair grounds, and other places, with the old can-tabs still littered among the dirt if you dig down a couple inches). So obviously, fourth in that falls good soles. However, many of our site grounds are simply re-purposed from other uses, whether they be farms, horse grazing land, or untended private land(Mowed, but that's about it.) The possibility in many areas of uneven grade is high, whether it be sinks of dirt between rocky ground, or mole and groundhog holes. For those of the equestrian bent, just think for a minute what happens to a horse that hits a foot in a mole hole. Now, think of what might happen to a 200+lb heavy fighter wearing 80lbs of platemail and no ankle support in the same situation. Think of how many people heal up perfectly from foot and ankle breakages over their lifetime, and how long it takes in a wheelchair to even get That far. Touching briefly on toe support, my only response statement is Dutch Oven. Nuff said.
What this draws down to is that if you want to be period perfect, you are certainly welcome to give it a shot, but to put your safety at risk in order to do so is a key to your own undoing, and in time, you will quickly learn to regret it. You're more than welcome to have a period canvas tent, so long as you remember to soak it in non-period rot prevention mechanisms, and soak your woodwear in sealants(Yeah, you don't wanna lose an 850 dollar tent in a year.). You're more than welcome to cook period dishes, but I refuse to eat at your table if you're not taking at least basic food safety handling precautions. And to draw this to a pointed edge, you are more than welcome to have spiritual healing beliefs rooted in the middle ages, but if you're my responding chirurgeon, you'd better not start talking to me about chakras when I've got a sucking chest wound!
What this comes down to is thus. Common sense, really, and the acceptance that some of the technology available in the middle ages isn't best for our modern world. Period fabric is great and all, but many sites get very cold, very quickly, at night. Thusly, wear warm layers underneath, as no one likes ending out their trip early due to a hefty bout of hypothermia. Gesso coating your shield might be period in nature, but when you're afield, and someone gives it a good whack, shattering your gesso, and the flying debris catches someone in the eye, at least one person's weekend vacation is going to be ruined on your account, and possibly yours as well. As such, consider that what you do should consider the possibility of the safety of others just as much as your own. The last thing we want to eventually develop among the Society's onlookers is a reputation of being so period that it kills us!