A Dear Friend

At a loss of words, but what I can say about Scott

It would not be fair of me to kick off this blog with all these recipes, small adventures Shane and I go on, and stories about our lives, and not include a post about what most recently happened in our life. Shane and I are familiar with loss, he lost his mother to cancer, and I lost my infant son to something the doctors didn’t quite know how to label, so they decided on schizencephaly with a case of hydrocephalus. But last Sunday, we received a call  in the evening that we lost his dear, close friend to a wreck.

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Last week I personally went through waves of disbelief, heartache, and even anger at the thought of Shane having his best friend snatched from his life. This man who always had a smile to share, the quickest wit of anyone I know, and so much hope for the future as he was making plans with us, other friends, and my dear cousin Leah.

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So much could be said about this time, and yet there is still just a level of disbelief and a loss for words. What I will leave you with is what I shared at the funeral.

My name is Catherine, I’m Shane Elser’s wife. You know, when we started dating, I would often describe Scott as our third wheel. In all reality, there were many times I was the third wheel, joining them on some outing where they were doing something they were passionate about. I never minded, because it was always such a joy to witness their friendship. Looking back now, I can say not only was it a joy, but an honor to get to see such a once-in-a-lifetime type of friendship that was so rich, so genuine, and so enduring.

I am going to say a few words for Shane…

“I think that we can all agree that Scott was someone that everyone just wanted to be around. There was never a dull moment with him. He was a friend that, when I needed something, he was there, when I planned something, he was never late, and when I got into something, he was the one beside me. 

Everyone is asking me to tell a story about him or us and all the things we have done together in our lifetime, but I can’t pick one because we had so many, in fact, all of the good stories in my life have him in it, and some probably aren’t appropriate for this setting. I will share one though. I am not sure where we were at, but we were on a creek side somewhere fly fishing, which is when we were the most honest with each other; the big fish stories didn’t come out until we got home. Just him and I tying our flies on to start fishing, he stops what he is doing, looks around at the woods and the water and tells me, “The closest I feel to God is when I am in the woods or with a rod in my hands…” and then goes back to tying his fly. Well, after hearing that, I figured him and God were closer than we even were because his heart was in the woods and on the creek side. 

I think I knew Scott better than anyone, and I know if he wanted to leave a legacy, it would simply be, do what you enjoy, love what you are doing, and have a good time doing it. I will speak for him when I say, whether your fly is in the water or in the tree, just remember where you are and make it a good time, because he always did.”

There aren’t enough words to describe how deeply Scott will be missed. Everything Shane did was with you, Scott. I hardly know a story from Shane’s childhood that doesn’t begin with with “Scott and I…” We know you’d never stop living life to the fullest, so we are going to try to live on, Scott, and carry on doing those things you loved in honor of you, out in God’s nature you loved so much.

Job 12:7-10 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

Scott was the friend that we had gone to the winter rendezvous with, and we had planned to go to many more together. When we went to his committal service, I said to Shane, “Rendezvous means meeting place right?” He said yes, so I told him that I wanted to wear my new rendezvous dress to the graveyard, as it would be the last meeting place we would be at until we meet again in heaven.

Thank goodness for the nice weather of this past weekend. We were able to get out on the lake with Shane’s brother and sister-in-law and just enjoy God’s creation like Scott would’ve. We didn’t catch anything, but the breath of fresh air, God’s air, filled our lungs and gave some peace.

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My First Rendezvous Weekend

For missing our first Valentine’s, we certainly made up for it in the weekend that followed. We didn’t plan to have an exciting weekend just because we missed Tuesday evening together, no, we are just the type to not sit still. At least for very long if we do. So Friday marked our second game night with his brother and his wife, my new in-laws, Saturday we spent the day together and with his friend Scott at a rendezvous, and Sunday was a nice morning of church followed by lunch and day dreaming about our closet finished by a nice walk and a homemade deep dish pizza in one of our cast iron pans.

The rendezvous was really fun though and definitely a highlight of our weekend. It has been a thing Shane has been doing with his best friend Scott for years, and has been telling me all about them. Finally he got to take me to one. Now this was mid February, but the weather couldn’t be nicer! It was on the verge of warm, so it was a delight to walk around with my husband and get to learn about something he loves.

A rendezvous could be described as a sort of reenactment, except, if you use those words in front of Shane, he will deny it is a reenactment. If you ask him what it is all about he will say it is a mountain man gathering where people go dressed as mountain men and do things like set up a camp how they would’ve and have a shooting competition with their muzzleloaders. Sort of like a reenactment you might say, and quite frankly when I am trying to describe it, reenactment slips from my lips. Sorry Shane. I think he doesn’t like that term because it implies people are going to go to gawk at them, touch their stuff, and take selfies, #history #mountainman #beards! And that really doesn’t happen.

When you look up Rocky Mountain Rendezvous, you will find an explanation that says something about an annual gathering that took place for fur traders, and the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous happened specifically between 1825-1840. This was a chance for the mountain men to sell their furs they had gathered and to replenish their supplies. Now they are all over, you can look them up by region or town, and we went to Brookville Pennsylvania’s small February mountain man rendezvous.

Think of the dress for this time period this way, the sewing machine was not created until 1846, and at that Singer’s sewing machine didn’t make it onto the scene until 1850. Any fans of Little House on the Prairie? Well, when the Ingall’s settled on the Osage Diminished Reserve, that was from 1869 to 1870. I don’t know if any of those dates give you a good image of what the people then may have looked like, but we are talking hand stitched, long dresses, bonnets, and everything made out of more natural materials such as wool and linens. If we are looking specifically at the 1830’s, cotton was actually more scarce and expensive, but a fabric that is okay to use at these rendezvous. Since people didn’t have huge closets to pick what new thing they wanted to wear everyday, women wore aprons to keep their dress clean. Meanwhile men would’ve been wearing that sort of billowy white shirt that tucked into their pants if not a buckskin shirt.

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Enough about what they would’ve worn. What I did wear was jeans and a t-shirt with a sweater over top. Shane had proudly presented me with a capote last winter, so I wore that more historically accurate wool jacket over top of my not historically correct jeans and probably synthetic sweater. Shane and his buddy got all dressed up in the correct garb though, and were off to be guided through a shooting course by Scott’s dad.

It was really fun to watch the two banter as they went from obstacle to obstacle, shooting their guns and keeping score. Their dry wit enough to keep me entertained as we waited at one point for a large group ahead of us to move on, Shane and Scott convinced me to try and through the ax while we waited instead. Insisting that this was something I could do. I told them i wasn’t much good at throwing things, and when playing fetch with Jagger, I would often hit the one obstacle in the yard while trying NOT to. But I threw anyways. The ax flew over the log with the playing card on it, beside the log, and smacked into it. When it smacked into it, they were convinced I wasn’t standing in the right area to let the ax rotate enough. Here’s where I asked myself, “Why, oh, why did I not throw the ax more often with my brother when we were camping as teens?” No matter, they were going to fix where I stood, which, in theory, meant the ax would correct itself. I must say, I struck the target once! No, not the playing card, just the large log. The guys were much better then me when I finally gave up the ax.

Finally, we moved on from the throwing to the rest of the course. At the end, the guys had to make a fire, and if they did it in under ten seconds, they got to do a re-shoot of the last target. Shane got his fire in under ten seconds! It was really impressive, considering one time he handed over the tools for me to give this method of making a fire a try, and after about a minute I thought, “Well, I would be doomed.” At least I know if I had my mountain man, I would stay alive.

This whole experience was really fun, and of course wetted my appetite for a bigger rendezvous. The type where no modern anything is allowed, or if you have it, you have to hide it in your tent. I was told at the bigger ones that happen for a few days, there are days where the general public can come in and enjoy, but after that, it is all as historically accurate as possible. This is of course a fun challenge to me, it is moments like this that I am not sure Shane fully comprehends how big of a nerd I can be about such things. I’m not sure Shane fully understands how bug of a history nerd I was, or still am. So when he asked if this is something I would like to dress up in historically accurate clothing and do, I said, “I’m going to stop you at dress up in period clothing. You know I would really like to.”

So I have found a dress on Etsy and am excited that the maker could make it to my specific size. I’m looking forward to more of these in the summer, and sharing in this interest with my husband.