I poked some fun at the Ren Faire scene not long ago, but I’ve been thinking about the phenomenon in terms of the bigger picture, and think it serves as yet another example of how we humans are deeply intrigued by the past. I mean think about how many different activities out there that are somehow related to preservation of some thing or some activity, art form, or technology that took place in the past but has disappeared (or is disappearing). There are antique collectors, steam engine enthusiasts, civil war reenactments, fashion items that have cyclically come and gone out of style multiple times, musical genres, painting styles, architectural styles, and numerous other phenomenon that we feel compelled to preserve and on some level keep alive.
In my own little way, I try to preserve our gardening heritage (and biological diversity) by making a point to plant heirloom seeds in my garden each year – scores of once popular varieties of apples, tomatoes, beans, and many other types of plants are vanishing as commercial growers and seed companies focus on hybrids that best suited for industrial-scale production, harvest, and distribution. These new hybrids have qualities, such as longer shelf lives, increased disease/pest resistance, or harvest size that make them desirable from one perspective, but often at the expense of nutritive value or flavor.
In what ways are you fascinated by the past or are somehow keeping it alive? Do you have a collection of ragtime recordings, restore old cars, use old carpentry tools, or know how to sew by hand?