warning: dead animal hanging from a tree in our backyard photos here…i would not have taken or honored these photos 25 years ago. i call that progress.
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when i know there isn’t meat in my food, i eat with complete abandon and ease. when i know there is meat in my food, i eat with an awareness and a bit of wondering. that being said, i will choose a reuben or a steak and cheese any day. i will welcome bacon on my egg sandwich. i will drive my hiney through wendy’s and order a junior cheeseburger deluxe. i had indian chicken the other day with chickpeas and rice that was delicious. so it’s not that i don’t like meat or don’t eat meat…it’s more of my innate attitude towards it. i seldom prefer the flavor of meat over veggies and cheeses.
in the early years of our dating, jerry and i processed many times over his practice of hunting. it was a gun issue, an animal rights issue, a general unfamiliar lifestyle/cultural issue. i am so grateful that we are through that. i can honor his practice and am comfortable with it. this gentle man of mine experiences a part of himself otherwise hidden by the chaos of town and a busy home.
the deer season seems short to me….less than two weeks. jerry went out often to some of his family’s land in hopes of getting a deer (emphasis on “getting” rather than “catching” as i used to say…that seemed to conjure up images of him playing tag with a deer, i guess.). on the eve of the last day of the season micah came running in to the kitchen. he had been hovering by the front yard swing tree and the driveway as daylight drew to a close. “we’ve got dinner! we’ve got dinner!” i knew this meant that the hours of standing still in a stand of trees resulted in jerry bringing home a deer. an animal dead for our family’s eating.
with deep breath i look at the young deer. he looks asleep. he was probably still warm. he was someone’s family member…sorry, seasoned hunters, this is where my mind goes. but it’s okay. if i’ll eat that cheeseburger or that philly cheese steak, that sausage pizza and bacon and egg bagel, then i will look at you, deer of no more than a year.
via youtube and online searching, jerry determined how to process the deer on his own. our garage reminded me of a surgery space of sorts: clean feed bag turned inside out and clamped to a table, mixing bowls at the ready, saws and knives lined up, cleaning spray and freezer paper. then add in AM radio in the background with chickens and cat curious at his heels.
a little friend at church asked me where jer bear was. when i told her he was home working with the deer, she told me she saw that on her daddy’s phone. then her three year old hands held my cheeks, with eyebrows raised higher than most adults will ever do she whispers in high pitch and sing song cadence, reassuring me as though she knew the inner turmoil that still exists: “i saw that. (pause but maintain eye contact) you have meeeeeeat. you will eat that deer. (nodding head) now you have meat.”
thanks in great part to my mabel friend, i came home from church and took photos. a creature alive in the kansas prairie one day was in our freezer the next. amazing. amazing. amazing.
and today i bought jerry a shirt that says” venison: the christmas meat.”
there we go.