Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scents and Sensibilities

I still have to sometimes give myself a little shake when I really stop to think about the life God has given me.

I did not grow up among hunters. It was always something I wanted to try, but never had the chance. It was a "tough thing" with me. I was always trying to prove my "toughness."

When I attended high school in Wisconsin (a Lutheran boarding school) some of the kids would go home for an entire week during hunting season. I thought this ridiculous.

I was always a little grossed out when seeing all the dead deer with their heads rolling and tongues lolling upon the backs of cars. I just tried not to look.

Gradually I lost somewhat the having to "prove my toughness" stage and was kind of ambivalent about hunting. Also, I had friends who ate mostly venison. I have to say, eating at their place was yet another deterrent to the whole hunting thing. I was a bit ashamed of myself though, for not having more gustatory "toughness." One of my favorite sayings with my kids is, "Food is to give you nourishment and fill you up. If you like it, it's a bonus." But here I was, only 20-something, and finding myself untrue to one of my toughness rules. But I just really didn't want to eat venison.

Joe and I talked about him or us hunting, but there were many deterrents. Cost would have been an issue in those days. We had no guns, no clothes, no weapons, limited experience processing animals, so we would have had to pay a locker...And we had no land at which to hunt.

So it just never happened. And my gustatory conscience had no reason to feel guilt.

Then we moved up North.

We were given lots of venison. I really tried to use it faithfully throughout the year, but often my freezer had lots of venison left come August.

Gradually though, I got used to the flavor. We had some people give us very clean meat. Meaning most of the fats were carved off. At first I still had to kind of pick at it and try to look like I was enjoying it so I would set a good example for the kids. Gradually I got to the point at which I could eat it without grimacing inwardly. I would chew as quickly as possible and just kind of swallow it down and take a quick drink, trying not to allow it to touch any taste buds.

The next stage was when I could actually taste it. I mean, I could chew it naturally and not feel the urge to quickly ingest it.

And finally I can say I like it. There might be a piece here or there or a prep method or even an entire animal that is gamier than I'd prefer, but for the most part I enjoy it. I can now say, "Hmm, venison." (And lamb, too, I've even come to enjoy it's lambiness.)

But to get back to the shock thing. All of my siblings are urbanites. I can only imagine what they think when the read of our lifestyle and some of the rural living adventures we have.

This morning I walked out into my garage and there hang two big bucks. No, unfortunately, none of my mighty hunters has gotten one. But we were given two that will help to fill the freezer.

Just as an aside, there exists a certain "hunting shack" culture. All the families know each other and many have extended family around who aren't able to get here often. So it's kind of like a big community reunion. Lots of visiting between the different groups of hunters. And there are always a few pranksters going around to the various hunting schacks.

This year, one of the local gentlemen, now a pastor, went around to many of the cabins and posed signs that read "Posted: NIMRODS: And Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord."

Another year, I'm told, some aspiring comedian went to all the "posted, no trespassing" signs and tacked long side each a sign such as one might find in gas stations or bars or diners this time of year, "Welcome hunters."

No comments: