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Feeding the “Lumber Jacks” of the Vicksburg pavilion

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By Kristina Powers Aubry as posted on the Timber Framers Guild blog site

It’s amazing what one can learn about complete strangers in a very short time. As one of the three women who have tried to make a campground and building site homey and comfortable for the framers while they spend their days diligently chiseling, sawing, hammering and winching, we have learned a lot about the gang.

There are the early risers. Those rare few who stir before we drive in at 5 a.m. to get the coffee perking. They move slowly but deliberately through the dark, getting things started. And the late risers. We know that until we see the slowly ambling stride of the only one who just can’t hear the “dinner bell” ringing right near his tent, it’s not time to clear up the breakfast yet.

We know who, in spite of the near freezing temperatures overnight, comes to the table in flip-flops, bare footed, or in slippers; who likes quiet and soft conversation first thing in the morning; and who hits the ground running and ready for life with a roar.

We’ve learned how nearly everyone likes to arrange their food. Some are “all-togethers” who dish up everything in their own dish, making interesting combinations of flavors and textures; some the separate, tidy “no touching” arrangement of selections. There are the loaders whose economy of energy won’t require a return trip to the buffet; and the one-at-a-timers who like to savor each item on its own and make return trips.

We have learned that not only models are vegetarians. The mountains of fruits and vegetables that have been consumed in the past 10 days would make the Department of Agriculture and the FDA giggle with glee. One afternoon a local stopped by to see what was going on and noticed some bananas on the table. He asked if we picked them up at the local grocery in the mornings. When we told him we did, he understood why, when he went in to buy his, they were all gone. He left and returned with 7 bags of bananas to keep us supplied and he was able to buy a few of his own for a couple of days.

We know the milk-drinkers, the coffee-holics, and the water- onlys. We know that even as produce-conscious as the framers are, sweets are part of the picture, too.

I’d estimate over two thousand cookies of all shapes and sizes have passed through the dining tent with only a few crumbs remaining. The nine home-made, fresh Michigan fruit pies for dessert at lunch will go down in TFG food history. So many residents have taken the project to heart that they started dropping by with unsolicited trays of cookies and baked goods.

Of our 50 participants, to whom 10 days ago we were just being introduced, we have learned many things. We now think of ourselves rather like the sisters who know a lot, wouldn’t tell a soul about the private things, but know how to make things “right” when we see the gang heading to the dining tent. We’ve met artists, poets, philosophers, and kings, white collars, blue collars, and no collars from all over the world here in our little corner of it.

We have also decided two things.

First, it will be tough to have to go back home and start cooking just for ourselves and our families after 10 days of exceptionally good, brought to the tent, meals.

And we will miss every one of our new timber framer family when they go back to their homes.

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