Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Small Town Life

When we moved to Buchanan, we deliberately chose to be here because we wanted a small town. We try to enjoy a lot of the things you can find here. For instance, two weekends ago Buchanan hosted a Civil War re-enactment. My Aunt Suzy came up with her friend Ann. We had a kick going into town and watching the festivities.

We went for the street skirmish. Rebels and Yankees...oops, I mean damnyankees, it's all one word...met on the streets of Buchanan. One of the damnyankees had earlier been a Reb, but got "reassigned", not surgically and only temporarily. It seems more Rebels than Yankees show up sometimes and so, in the interests of having someone at which to shoot, they change uniforms and cross dress, or something like that. So this poor Yankee got shot in the street and carefully lay down. Some of the Rebels, girls in Rebel uniforms, liberated his boots. Then the cavalry came to save him, but because the street isn't very wide, they were in danger of killing him instead. So, he had a miracle cure and crawled to the sidewalk.

The cavalry rides in a double column. The two men in front shoot, then swing wide so the next men in line can shoot. While they move up in this fashion the first to shoot reload as fast as they can....and by the way, they need to work on their speed... then when they are in front again, they are ready to shoot. They cleared the street and then we went for a drive to the White Oak Tea Tavern. It is a log home built in the 1600's and restored. It is a wonderful place for tea and gifts and they serve a great lunch.

The next morning was Sunday, so we went to the church service. There is a circuit riding preacher that follows re-enactments and we heard him give his sermon. There were ladies dressed in 1860's era clothes and they came, along with any soldier that cared to come. There were no Rebel uniforms that I saw, so I guess they crossed back. Afterwards, we walked through some of the sutlers tents to see what sort of things they were selling. They had a lot of clothing and accoutrements that re-enactors could purchase and books and things for kids. I bought some loose chai tea in a bag, but I have no idea if this was a staple of the time. I doubt it, but maybe they had run the blockade!

In the afternoon we went for the big battle down on a field outside of town. I took some pictures, but it is hard to see what all was happening. There were cannons on both sides facing each other. Each side had a number of infantry and cavalry. The infantry tried to draw out the cavalry and then it became a free for all, with everyone shooting...V E R Y S L O W L Y. Even the cannons were slow. Suzy suggested they drew it out because it was probably costly each time they shot! At any rate it was very loud and made us jump each time, even though we were expecting it! There was a rush of air that we could feel from the force of the explosion. A haze from the gunpowder took some time to dissipate and by the time they had been fighting for a while you got a bit of an idea of how a battle zone would sound and feel. No one got hurt or died, so there is no way to really feel the intensity and fear, but you could smell the gunpowder and feel the thump in your chest with each cannon shot. Soon the cavalry had to quit using their guns. They were too close to re-load so they fought with sabers. Suzy and I looked at each other and smiled. It reminded us of grown up little boys playing war games or cowboys and Indians.

There did not seem to be as many people as we have seen in previous years. I think this is only the fourth year they have been having them, but it seems to me the crowds were bigger last year. They had the events spread out over more days and that may have affected the size at each individual event. Also, the news had been warning of severe thunderstorms as a possibility. In fact we left the "Battle of Buchanan" towards the end when we saw dark clouds heading our way. We got home just in time. The clouds opened up and huge raindrops the size of quarters came thundering down. The perfect, dramatic end to a fun weekend.

Last weekend there was the Annual Strawberry Festival in Roanoke. It is a fund raiser to support a local school. We go to this every year, also. Not for the music or the vendors, although we enjoy the music and usually buy something from a vendor or two. But we go to pig out on the strawberries! In fact, I couldn't find any strawberries in the market the day before. I wonder if they bought up all the strawberries in the Roanoke Valley. They certainly had some beautifull ones. They had gorgeous ones to dip in chocolate and we never miss the strawberry shortcake. By then we are very thirsty and have to have a strawberry smoothie...OWWWW...brain freeze! We just love the Strawberry Festival.

So there it is. A synopsis of our wild times living in the country. It may sound tame, but we like it. It is what we were looking for when we moved here and we are glad we came


  1. It looks like a nice small town. Lots of culture.

  2. Wow! A civil war re-ennactment sounds fun! I have never been to one. Although once, when I was riding the BART to San Fransisco, there was a guy siting next to me in full confederate army costume. Maybe he was on his way to one.