What Happens At The MHV Ladies Auxiliary Faspa?

At the mere mention of the Mennonite Heritage Village Ladies Auxiliary Faspa, one thinks immediately of tea cups, flowers, and precious elderly women named Eleanor who try to make sure you eat just a little bit more. This is only just one of the reasons I love attending the Auxiliary’s events. (Eleanor exists, and she is one of my most favourite people.)

So when I heard that Margruite Krahn was going to be appearing at yesterday’s spring tea/faspa — hailing all the way from yantzied yet — I marked the event on my calendar, and asked my friend Alexandra if she’d like to meet me there. I see now that I really should have mentioned to Mennotoba readers if they also would like to attend. Sadly, there were far too many empty chairs.

Alexandra and I capitalized on the emptiness of the hall and the Mennonite back-benching tendencies (that’s not dirty to say, is it? I often worry about accidentally incorporating euphemisms into my posts…) by table-hopping our way straight to the front. Eleanor had asked me how I knew Margruite. My answer: “Oh, I just stalk her.” I am honest and efficient in my communication.

I was thoroughly charmed by the centrepieces, which were live pansies planted in teapots. I love both items quite a lot.

The afternoon begun with Accent women’s ensemble. I was particularly riveted by their rendition of Warrior by The Wyrd Sisters. There’s something about hearing a group of women singing lyrics such as “I can and will a warrior be / It is my nature and my duty / It is the sisterhood in me.”

Background: Accent. Foreground: empty table… where YOU should’ve been sitting! (I know. Hindsight is always 20/20, as they say…)

And then Margruite took the stage. She pulled up a chair, adjusted the mic, and took us with her into the world of the women who had painted the colourful floor patterns that she’s been uncovering over the past years. I took no notes so let’s see if I remember somewhat correctly… Mrs. Friesen and her maid Miss Klassen set about painting the floors after the children had been tucked into bed. Each starting from opposite ends of the room, they met in the middle, singing the old hymn “will the circle be unbroken”. (And thus all of us present now also know that Margruite Krahn possesses a stunning singing voice, in addition to detailed artistic sensibilities.) She described the two women kneeling on the floor in their flower dresses as being not unlike flowers themselves. I so love this imagery.

Margruite Krahn, and one of her patterned floor cloths.

Margruite concluded her talk by relating a story about a young woman she knows who insists she is Indigenous… though in reality this person is of completely Russian Mennonite descent. But she abhors her roots and would like to choose different roots (ah, been there). But the thing is… can you accurately see and honour the heritage of other people groups, if you can’t face up to your own?

And then, FASPA: zwieback, jam, pickles, cheese cubes, and so very many little cakes, courtesy of the Ladies Auxiliary! Washed down with decaf coffee, of course. Alexandra kinda photobombed my pic and I kinda love it:

This lovely afternoon cost just $10 at the front desk. Before leaving, I purchased one of Margruite’s beautifully bound field journals, depicting all the floor patterns she’s found and recreated. They’re just $25 each (or two for $40) and Margruite doesn’t promote them at all.

You should probably come to the next MHV Ladies Auxiliary event. That’s all I’m saying.