Phew. Well THAT was a weekend. I’ve talked about FooL before (2016 2017), although not nearly as often as I’d thought! Fruits of Our Labours is usually a weekend long camping A&S weekend that is full of hands on experimenting and learning goodness. It was our investiture event, it was my beloved’s first event, it was where I got my AoA five years ago. There’s a lot of sentiment wrapped up in FooL for us. But this year we’re in a plague, and we can’t meet in person, so the FooL staff took it online. (Also.. apparently I’m even worse about pictures at home than at events. Goodness. I really do own a phone with a camera, I promise. Sheesh.)
Now, this is an event that lends itself to online. Sure, we miss out on getting to do things ourselves, but classes are.. by and large.. a lot more online friendly than say.. armoured combat tournies. It’s hard to demonstrate quite the same way, but the ingenious ways some of the teachers had for rigging up cameras to show their scribal desks and looms were nothing short of brilliant. (Zoom crashing world wide 15 mins before Sunday morning classes starting? Not brilliant, but so many kudos to staff and students and teachers in generally rolling with it and google meet wasn’t quite as slick, but we got there.)
There was a social space for folks to drop in and out of, and loiter about and just chatter idly, classes all day and bardic each night. It was, very much like in person FooL except with no canvas to haul, and comfortable beds at night. Even the recipes for site token suggestions were posted. I got plenty of embroidery done listening to the social space, and the bardic on Saturday night, which was nice.
That being said, everything was a little off kilter. I had no idea how much we respond to the audience when we’re addressing the populace until we were talking to a camera and everyone was muted. Surreal, utterly. I am quite certain that there has never been quite so many feline attendees at FooL as there were this year. Bardic circles online are 100% performance and 0% rowdy singing along with the whole crowd in the key of army. I mean.. nothing stops you from singing along at your muted computer (which I do often!), but there’s something about a whole campfire’s worth of people singing together that has a power that no Zoom meeting can ever replace. (Over and above the fact that our campfire was a vanilla scented pillar candle. No bardic circle smells quite that vanilla-ey /either/)
I am so incredibly proud the FooL staff for making it go, even through all sorts of hurdles and challenges. I am so delighted that we got to have people visit from all over the known world, not only as teachers, but as students and bards and just hanging out. Even folks from our own Kingdom who can’t make it out to many events poked their noses in, and that was awesome. (I also nipped off to Artemesia for a class about Viking Food before bardic on Saturday, which was awesome. Fastest commute ever!)
FooL 2020 was like no other, and it absolutely is one that will be remembered.