I had to miss the first Wild West Arts Fest in Las Vegas because I'd been booked to present workshops and demos in Denmark and Italy. It was a two-week working vacation which completely blew the cobwebs out of my winter-in-Minnesota mindset.
The Danes have one word - "Hygge" pronounced hue-gee - which means hospitably hanging out, having a pleasant time together.
My hosts, Dan and Rikke, gave me the incredible experience of what this shining word can mean, from the food to the stories we shared.
On a personal note, my father served in WWII as an RAF navigator in Lancasters that dropped supplies to the Danish Resistance. Dan told me that the area in Jutland where we were was a major dropsite.
Here's where's the story enters the Twilight Zone: One of my favorite British paracord whip makers, Daz Shelton, was there at the same time. Over dinner, he told me about an amazing experience he'd recently had, taking a ride around a runway in one of the last Lancaster bombers still flying -- and that he was allowed to sit in the navigator's seat when they found out Daz's uncle had been a navigator in the RAF in WWII, flying Lancasters to drop supplies for the Resistance in Denmark. (Just how small is this world we live in?)
From the moment I arrived in Rome from Copenhagen, I experienced sensory overload. First, there are no right-angled corners on any of the streets, and they change their names every time time they alter direction, even slightly. Second, there are more cars in Rome than there is actual space on the streets. Even while driving (subito!), the fashion in Rome is to wear your automobile very tightly around your hips in a high-speed game of Tetrus with the other cars. While motorcycles, scooters and mopeds swirled around me, seeing three cars abreast on two lanes was not uncommon.
Between workshops, I walked a bit around the old town, cutting a dashing figure with my long white hair, my beard (like my dear friend Anton's!), my black hat and clothing, looking so much at home that a harried businessman asked me for directions in Italian. I automatically told him, "Non so - mi dispiacci." ("I don't know, I'm sorry.") I was no help to him at all, but I was pleased I could be polite to him in his own language.
These are examples of the intangible rewards I've received from bullwhips over the years, and why I am happy to give back when I can to this art and sport.
And I'll see Daz again in August when I'm in England. Who knows, we might go flying!