Silver Spoons

Some people are born with silver spoons while some people have to carve theirs out of wood with a dull knife. The struggle teaches far more than the privilege yet we are conditioned under that archaic system of classes to believe that the value of a person is relative to the size of their coffers. 

I was born the daughter of a man who had an 8th grade education and a mom who graduated high school to go right into marriage and child rearing at the age of 18. We were never rich, the majority of my clothes came from garage sales and clearance racks. I remember the envy I would feel towards the “popular” girls with their designer clothes who always got picked first while I warmed the bench at basketball and volleyball games. It was frustrating, disheartening, and even when I landed myself a pair of coveted Nike Air tennis shoes the rest of me didn’t match the expense.

To this day, as an adult, my origins are as engraved into my appearance and psyche as a battle scar. I have the college degree, earned after 5 years of cloistering myself in a 10×8 dorm room and studying as though my life depended on it. Back then I thought it did. I thought that if I immersed myself in academia I would bleach out my past and be reborn a smart, chic, intelligent woman of the times with high heels clicking down the hallway to success.

The truth is, I never used that degree that I gave up 5 years of my life and a huge chunk of my parents savings for. Instead I work sometimes multiple jobs to make ends meet and while my main source of income comes from an office in which I click around in those proverbial high heels, I am not treading the hallway to success. I am inherently reminded of my place. Sometimes you just have to play by those rules, and then get a backbone and make your own because you know you are better, deserve better.

I’m still that awkward kid in second hand clothes deep down. Yes I dress the part and try to appear chic and put together as the girl in my last post called me. But, I look down at my hands and see dirt under the nails from cleaning barns so I scrub and paint my nails only to noticed how chapped and unsightly my hands are from the cleaning solutions I use. My clothes look cheap and shabby next to the women I see while running errands in their expensive wool coats and Italian leather boots. The silk purse and sows ear adage suits and I duck my head in shame.

I have allowed this false sense of insecurity, yes insecurity, ruin relationships. I feel every relationship is a competition and that the person I am with could do much better than me. I have dismorphia when it comes to my beauty and my value as a partner.  Or, I enter into relationships with men who feed me crumbs and I pretend they are feasts. I have so much to give but feel that what I have is akin to giving someone a bag full of non perishables and no one wants things that last anymore. I’m too old fashioned, too much, not enough. 

The girl I mentioned in my last post comes to mind and I get over myself very quickly. She was not ashamed of her eagerness to find a job, any job. Although she was shy, she made no attempt to belie her class in society and pretend to be something she wasn’t. She marched into our office alone, unashamed, grateful just to have an ear to listen to her story. And, everyday her wooden spoon was judged and scorned by the silver spoons but that didn’t stop her. 

So I tell myself, you are more than just a clothes rack. You are the daughter of people who had nothing but gave you everything you needed to survive on your own. You can hunt, fish, can fruits and vegetables, sew, take on jobs that no one wants, and you have eyes that see not faces but hearts and souls.

Class, money, spoons, they mean nothing in the end. I will take my wooden spoon over privilege any day of the week and I will light that sucker on fire so that others have a light to see just how valuable they are as well!

Serving Coffee

Yesterday at 4:45, 15 minutes before our office closes, a young woman walked through the door and inquired about any open job positions we might have available. She had mousy brown hair that was snarled, a pale thin face that belied her youth as time and a hard life had aged her, her clothes were well worn and a few sizes to big. She spoke with the quiet voice of someone who places her value far below that of the person she is addressing, and she appeared exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually.

Our HR Coordinator was conducting an interview so I conversed with the young woman. We spoke of generalities and then got into the type of work she was looking for. She had been suffering with debilitating headaches for 8 years and was on disability but still wanted to have a “job” so she could feel useful. Her illness had cost her family almost everything and the knowledge that she was such a burden to them was too much for her to bear.

She said she would do any odd job we had like cleaning, making copies, running errands, “I will serve coffee, I’m good at that!” I smiled at her enthusiasm while at the same time my heart was breaking for this woman who was just a girl a few years ago. She told me she could never have an important job like mine because she is not all pretty and put together like me. 

When she said that I wanted to wipe off my makeup, put on my normal “at home” clothes and say “I am just like you!! I’m a grown woman who is still that terrified girl inside wondering if today is the day I can’t pay my bills. I too have medical expenses, $20,000 worth that scare me to death. We are the same, high heels and mascara do not give you importance!! You are special and I believe in you!”

But I remained silent as she hesitantly poured forth her story, her dreams of doing something with her life, her fears and frustrations. Again she pled with me to give her any kind of work and in my mind I was wishing I owned a company so I could help her, give her a job, give her some self worth. I remained silent and just listened feeling completely helpless and worthless since all I could do was hear this woman out.

As she prepared to leave I handed her our HR Coordinator’s card and told her to call and see what could be available. She pulled her hood up against the cold and before she walked out the door she turned and said “Thank you Mam and God bless You!” I said to her “I didn’t do much so no need to thank me!” She replied “You listened to me.”

The four most profound words I have heard in all my years “You listened to me.” I thought about those words all night and yet again today, hence this post. How many people out there just want someone to listen to them? To take the time out and give them just a moment of undivided attention, to make them feel like they matter? 

These days technology allows us to do more and more online without having to deal directly with people while at the same time allowing us to connect with individuals from around the globe. I wonder if in the process of connecting us on the web it really is tearing us apart from one another. We can chat with someone across the ocean on our phones and devices while our next door neighbor feels utterly alone and dejected. “You listened to me” rings in my ears, makes me think, makes me want to be a better person, one who does listen to others, one who gives others that modicum of security knowing that at least one person cares, and to make a difference somehow.

I learned yesterday that sometimes when you feel like you have done nothing for someone simply because you cannot hand them the world you actually have done more, you have stopped the world and focused on them at a time when they were perhaps feeling insignificant. Maybe the greatest gift you can give someone truly is the gift of your time.

Freidrich

I am the kind of person who goes through life flying by the seat of her pants. I make flash decisions without doing all the research and yet live with no regrets. I have found that when I allow myself to ponder my ponderings turn to over thinking which turns to insecurity and thus, inaction. So I act quickly and worry about the consequences later.

I had been paying frequent visits to a friend’s dairy goat farm a year ago when one evening I entered the loafing barn and saw a tiny white and black newborn goat huddled in the straw while his mother munched on grain. He was an angel in my eyes. As white as new snow with just enough black markings to create a pleasant contrast. The sound of his bleating melted my heart and the feel of his velveteen muzzle nibbling on my fingers won me over completely.

He was to be sold as a meat goat I was told. My blood ran cold, I felt physically ill and knew I had to do something. I had some money at home from the sale of my ATV. I had a barn at my disposal, I was ready. I took home that sweet little boy and two more baby goats. A female Toggenburg which I named Marta, a female Nubian which I named Liesl, and of course my little boy whom I named Freidrich. 

What joy these babies brought to my life!! Early morning feedings with soda bottles fitted with nipples, sitting in the pen with them as they crawled all over me nibbling and pressing up against me for hugs and kisses. They filled a very large hole in my life, they brought me happiness that I never dreamed myself capable of. 

In May all of my happiness came to an end. Friedrich started yelling day after day as though he was in pain. I spoke with the farmer I got him from. He was silent on the phone and I feared the worst. At 8pm I rushed him to the emergency vet and at 9:30 he was taking his last breath. Friedrich had developed urinary tract stones and there was nothing they could do so I had to make the decision to wait until his bladder burst or allow him to pass peacefully without pain. Friedrich was 3 months old, he was my greatest comfort, my joy, my baby and he was lying lifeless in my arms. 

I was numb all the way home. Friedrich’s little body lay in the backseat wrapped in a towel, my heart was broken. Then I started crying, I cried for hours over the loss of life, over all the things I had been through in life that no one but that little goat could mend, I cried in loneliness, I cried in rage over how everyone I ever have loved either left me or died, I cried until I went still. I thought I would lose my mind, to be honest. 

Friedrich was buried under a pile of boulders in the new play area being constructed for my goats. Liesl and Marta called out for him day after day, I could not heal. Headaches were frequent, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t move on. People would tell me that he was just a goat, a farm animal, get over it. Those words hurt. I am not able to have children, my mom had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, things were not going well at work, and those goats were my only source of joy. 

After particularly bad days at work I would go out to the barn and Friedrich would be the first to come running. He would jump into my lap and snuggle his little head under my chin while I let my tears of frustration flow. He loved me, he was always so happy to see me, and he healed me in so many ways. How does one just simply “get over” that?

In June the farmer I got Friedrich from presented me with a tiny, floppy eared, Nubian buckling to help ease the pain of losing Friedrich. Then a couple weeks later he called with directions to a farm 2 hours south and when I got there the owner came out of the barn with a tiny, yet long legged, white and black Alpine buckling just like Friedrich. It was June 11th, my birthday.

Gunter and Gustav became my world. I kept them in the house and would wrap them in blankets so they could nap with me on the couch. They went with me all over and Marta and Liesl soon adopted them as their new brothers. My family was complete again. My heart was still broken but I had not lost the capacity to love.

Animals are great healers. Somehow they have the ability to enter our lives and make them better. They love unconditionally, do not judge, do not suddenly decide to stop loving you, and they give everything they have. I will never be fully over the loss of my Freidrich but his death taught me a very valuable lesson in how short life truly is, how things can change at the drop of a hat, and how you are never truly alive until you have loved someone so much that to lose them is like losing yourself.

Someday

Perhaps one of the most depressing words in the English language is the word “Someday.” When I hear it spoken it always comes out with a hint of longing or regret. A word of defeat, a word of hope without hope, a word that, in some cases, is synonymous with “never.”

The older I get, the more I dispise the word “Someday” because it reminds me of how, no matter how many years, decades even, have gone by, my somedays just keep getting farther and farther away. Then I fall into berating myself for how much time I have wasted, how many mistakes I have made personally, financially, and spiritually. I get frustrated, I give up, I get motivated then fail to get started, I cry, I rage, but nothing changes.

I know I am not the only one caught in this web of wanting to move forward to our somedays but being held back by routine, lack of funding, lack of guidance, lack of ambition brought on by the sting of too many failures, bad relationship choices,  lack of faith in ones own self, etc…

To re-write a saying I once read; It is sad when you have failed so many times that you start saying “I’m used to it.” But, are bumps along the road really failure? I think not!! Refusing to get started is what constitutes failure, refusing to work hard at what we want is failure, refusing to keep trying, that is failure and I have failed more often than not.

45 minutes from my place of employment is a farm. It is for sale. 9 acres of woods and pasture, a white farmhouse with a porch, a red barn, an outdoor brick oven for baking… I see it in my minds eye, that utopia I have searched for, given up on, then searched for again. It exists, however, it is real and tangible, it is for sale. It is $269,00. It might as well be $269,000,000 that negative voice in my head tells me and in the tip of my tongue is that horrid word “Someday.”

I don’t want to wait for an obscure date in the future that may never come. I am tired of excuses for why I am not living the life I deserve because frankly I got right where I am because I didn’t do anything to deserve more. I refused to acknowledge that I am an artist who could be making money off of my art, I scoffed at the fact that companies wanted to publish my writings, I degraded myself to the point where I felt I was not worth working on. “Someday” I would pursuse those things, I said, just not today.

As we speak my mom sits in a nursing home not knowing where she is or even what day it is. Years ago she looked forward to her retirement and how “Someday” she would finish all those quilts she wanted to make. Well, here we are and all those somedays don’t mean a damn thing because time ran out. Mom will never sew again, never see new places, never have dreams to keep her going, or hopes for the future. 

I wonder what she would have done had she known what would transpire in her later years. Would she have stayed single, joined the WACS like she always talked about, would she have lived for more than just 3 children and a difficult husband? Or is what happened to her a glimpse into my own life’s mirror? A chance to throw a stone at the reflection and see more in the shards than what was displayed before?

9 acres, a home, a place to keep my goats, all of my somedays in one physical location, happiness, dreams coming true, a business of my own, freedom, how? By changing all of those somedays into someways, and some hows. Someday has no guarantees and I am tired of banking my future on that kind of uncertainty. We always think we have more time but the harsh reality is that we have less and less each day.  I may not get those 9 acres overnight but it will not be from a lack of trying. 

Christmas Cookies

This time of the year the one thing I miss the most is baking Christmas cookies with my Mom. Every holiday season our baking was something akin to an Olympic event involving painstaking preparation and powerful tests of endurance. We would line up our ingredients, crank the Loretta Lynn Christmas album and get to work.

The first recipe on the docket was always the one for rolled sugar cookies because the dough had to chill in our “Polish Refrigerator” aka the un-insulated back porch, for a couple of hours to firm up to make the cut outs.

Everything was done from scratch from the fragrant smooth dough to the decadent icing tinted every color of the rainbow. Mom would pull open the stubborn bottom drawer of her kitchen cabinet, the one that always smelled of the brown sugar stored in the drawer above, and retrieve an ice cream pail full of cookie cutters as old as time.

In the yellow glow of the kitchen light the aluminim cutters reflected warmly on the worn Formica countertop. I would eagerly dig through the pile to find Santa with his gift bag, the snowflake, and my favorite leaping reindeer cutters, relieved that they survived another year.

With the table liberally dusted in flour, Mom would roll out sections of dough with a 50 year old rolling pin that creaked with each push. Silken dough, perfectly chilled, was rolled to 1/4 inch thickness before cutting into the cheerful shapes of the season. Hearts, diamonds, spades, Santa’s, reindeer, snowflakes, clubs, and stars covered well seasoned cookie sheets lined in parchment.

The cozy house soon filled with the scent of warm sugar, butter, and of home at Christmas. I would eagerly watch through the amber tinted glass of the oven door for the cookies to finish baking and then hours were spent in decoration. Mom would whip up a large batch of basic powdered sugar icing with just enough Watkins vanilla to turn simple into spectacular and set me to work with bowls for mixing colors.

Red for Santa was the most important and drop by drop from a tear shaped bottle of coloring would be added to achieve the correct hue. Containers of sprinkles emerged from the battered spice drawer perfumed with the exotic scents of cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. The icing was applied and quickly after the dusting of sprinkles, silver and gold baubles, and colored sugar that dyed fingers red and green.

Sheets of waxed paper spread across the dining room table like red carpets awaiting special guests. Soon, row upon colorful row of cookies littered the table painstakingly decorated by clumsy yet determined 7 year old hands. A Christmas mosaic of sugar laden artwork.

The memories of our special baking days sits neatly in the part of my heart reserved for that which I hold most dear. I cannot stir flour, butter, and sugar together without picturing Mom in her calico apron piped in peach fabric, her work worn hands gently guiding my soft childish ones in the making of so many recipes. Yes, one could say, the golden glow of a mother’s love never fades even when she is no longer capable of expressing it.

With this post from Christmas Past I wish to share with you our favorite rolled sugar cookie recipe so that you too can create memories to cherish like mine.

Corn Syrup Cookies

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 cup butter at room temp

2 eggs

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Watkins Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 cup corn syrup

Beat sugar and eggs until lemon yellow. Add syrup and vanilla, stir in dry ingredients to make a smooth dough. Chill 2 hours. Roll out on floured surface and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.

And at 350° on parchment lined cookie sheets until the edges are slightly golden. When cool, ice with your favorite icing.

Icing on the Cake

The Pathless Woods

With winter fast approaching I always laugh at people who bundle up like they are headed out on a trans Siberian adventure when they are merely going to the mailbox at the end of their drive.

Living in Wisconsin the number of complaints filed to the weather gods rivals that of the daily postage arriving at the North Pole this time of year. People curse the cold, stomp their feet, and proclaim loudly about how much they hate winter. What is the reason for so much animosity? The cold temps, messy roads, snow to shovel? With all the energy that goes into hating winter isn’t there at least one positive? Oh yes my friends, there are many.

Ice fishing! The best tasting fish of the entire year are the ones caught through the ice from December through March. Every winter I drag out my Fish Trap ice shack and treck…

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Icing on the Cake

With winter fast approaching I always laugh at people who bundle up like they are headed out on a trans Siberian adventure when they are merely going to the mailbox at the end of their drive.

Living in Wisconsin the number of complaints filed to the weather gods rivals that of the daily postage arriving at the North Pole this time of year. People curse the cold, stomp their feet, and proclaim loudly about how much they hate winter. What is the reason for so much animosity? The cold temps, messy roads, snow to shovel? With all the energy that goes into hating winter isn’t there at least one positive? Oh yes my friends, there are many.

Ice fishing! The best tasting fish of the entire year are the ones caught through the ice from December through March. Every winter I drag out my Fish Trap ice shack and treck across frozen backwater sloughs to my favorite spots. The crisp air stings in my nostrils and through watery eyes I survey the bays for the perfect local to drop a line. It is either feast or famine out there and while nothing beats sunfish fried in butter, just a few hours out in the peaceful quite of my shack melts away the stress of a long work week.

Hiking! I absolutely love going hiking in the winter through snow frosted forests. Like a sparkling wedding cake, the landscape is perfectly iced without a single flaw save for the tracks of woodland creatures going about their winter routines. The clear sharp air clears my lungs and the most minute of sounds is amplified and carried to my cold nipped ears. Squirrels rustling, deer foraging, and birds of prey swooping almost silently down into the snow to catch a meal while the sun reflects off of crystalline surfaces painting rainbows on pure white templates. Every sense is heightened in winter. Unable to succumb to the sluggishness that warm weather fosters, the cold has a way of heightening and sharpening awareness of ones self and ones surroundings.

I could go on and on extolling the joys of the season and I am a firm believer that people who partake of the outdoors regularly, no matter the weather, are happier and, as a result, healthier people. I am living proof of this in the fact that I can feel a change in me when I have not had enough time in the wilderness. Headaches become frequent, irritability takes over, and my mood becomes generally glum until I get outside for a few hours. Yet there are those who think I’m crazy for feeling this way. The outdoors is my therapy, my spa, my place of renewal despite the weather because there is so much to experience when you head out into the woods, fields, and valleys.

Tell me how one cannot find beauty and peace while standing amid falling snowflakes. Angel feathers dropping from the sky to gently kiss upturned faces. Or the watercolor glow of a January sunset melting across sky and frozen land like a overturned painters pot spilling warm color before darkness falls. How can one complain about the cold when bearing witness to mornings following a fresh snowfall when every twig and surface is flocked in lacy white sweaters knitted by unseen hands?

There is beauty in the death that signals winter. Life yet to be discovered and savored with each icy breath, each crunching step. The cold months are a time of inner renewal, a time to explore and push ones limits and find splendor where others see only despair. Perhaps the sole purpose of winter is to serve as a test, a test of endurance, a test of appreciation, a test of imagination. Or maybe it is what I have called it all along; a gift.

The Art of Giving Thanks

I am well enough aware that the internet and blogging community will be full of Thanksgiving posts speaking volumes on the origins and meaning of the Holiday. I will not try to veer from that theme but merely share my thoughts and memories about a the day we all gather to give thanks.

At 5am the motor fired up on Mom’s ancient meat grinder as she fed through it’s churning blades the various and unexpected ingredients for Grandma Lenzen’s German stuffing. I would pull the covers over my head in an attempt to drown out the incessant noise to no avail. Mom and Dad made preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the 6 of us sound like they were creating a feast for the 7 kingdoms. Dad would bark orders, Mom would scurry around the tiny kitchen dicing here, peeling there, stirring this, and mashing that. I watched, learned and then crept off to find the turkey coloring page in the newspaper while watching Macy’s parade on TV.

Then came the wait, and I’m not talking about waiting on the food. The wait for my sister and her husband to make the 30 minute drive to our house which seemed to take them 40 days and 40 nights. When they finally arrived, my sister would unpack her kidney shaped Tupperware container of 7 layer salad and I would go about the business of snatching off as many hard boiled egg slices as I could while no one was looking.

When it was finally time to eat, we all gathered around that old butternut table, said Grace, and dug in. Each flavor was one to savor, so familiar yet foreign in the fact that it had not been partaken of in an entire year. We ate until our eyes bulged then Mom wold bring out dented aluminum pans filled with desserts and we would eat again.

Dishes were washed and games played while Bing Crosby crooned in the background about a white Christmas. It was a cozy time, a time to soak in all the love and comfort that a small family shares. A time to make memories and to recall old ones to laugh over again. I miss those days.

Since being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, my mom can no longer commandeer the kitchen. Part, a huge part, of the Holiday cheer has vanished. The food doesn’t taste the same because her hands and her love are not preparing it. The memories are not as funny, home doesn’t quite feel like home anymore. Yet, time goes on.

Change is something we expect in life except when it comes to the holidays. We never want to see that picture postcard Thanksgiving or Christmas of our childhood to ever end. The holidays are the one thing we can still count on as adults to give us the wonder of being a child again. We look for Santa at the mall, we gaze fondly at brightly wrapped presents, we snatch colorfully iced cookies off of sugar laden trays, and we watch Christmas programs on TV just to capture the nostalgia of a time when innocence had not yet been lost to the demands of adulthood.

Like a time machine, boxes of decorations take us back as we unwrap memories with each ornament. We prepare food that has the flavor of times long past that allow us to cling to happy memories of moments that will never be again.

For me, the holidays may have lost a bit of their cheer but I give thanks for the memories I do have of a warm home, good food, and family. Although things will never be the same perhaps it is a sign that it is time to make changes of my own. To share the blessings, invite new members to my circle, volunteer more and give others the chance to expierece the holidays through my eyes. Giving thanks is not to be isolated to one day but something practiced the year over. The gifts of the season are not to be contained in boxes and stockings but to pour forth from full hearts and believing souls. So, on this approaching Thanksgiving I wish all of you the very best and challenge you to make one change in your routine that includes touching a life that might not otherwise have reason to celebrate. God bless.

Antlers for Supper

“You can’t eat antlers!” My dad used to say to me when I was a kid and complained that no big bucks ever came our way. I was not impressed by shooting does, I wanted that big 30 point buck to come my way so I could prove to the world that this 11 year old was a force to be reckoned with!

Looking back on my dad’s simple wisdom, I see how much times have changed. Back in the 1960’s Dad would load up his buddies in a renovated school bus with questionable breaks and head out to Buffalo, Wyoming for their annual mule deer hunts. They didn’t go out there to bring home trophies, they went to enjoy the camaraderie of deer camp and to bring home meat to fill the freezer, and memories to fill the year ahead.

Black and white photos from back then often depicted A-framed structures lined with deer harvested. There were no photos of a guy and his 40 point, non typical, mineral fed, selective bred, food plot deer. Just photos of rangy men standing by decrepit shacks in red wool and tattered hats.

What changed? How did the age old tradition of hunting become so glamorized, so Hollywood? Is it the TV shows featuring people in perfectly clean expensive camo always getting monster deer without breaking a sweat? The female hunter has morphed into women on the screen so perfecty coiffed that they look nothing like the women in my life who grew up hunting. Meanwhile, guy hunters show up to events in bedazzled jeans. It’s all about the big show, who is better, who gets more ratings.

These days, it seem like the whole atmosphere of the sport has changed from fun and camaraderie to a cut throat competition over who can shoot the biggest deer. Social media is littered with images of guys and gals posing strategically behind behemoths of the forest so as to make them look even larger than life. It is all about the size of the rack and even that is not real anymore. Not even deer could escape man’s constant quest to alter nature and now there are whole industries dedicated to producing products to “enhance” antler growth to the point of absurdity. Selective breeding on deer farms is also a norm and people pay thousands of dollars to get the opportunity to bag “trophies” inside fences. Why?

Because it is not good enough anymore to be common, to be that redneck hunter in dirty, blood stained orange who hunts on instinct and the will of God. It is not “glamorous” enough to come home with your tag limit of does and a small (by today’s standards) buck to fill the freezer. The network and code of honor among hunters too has died in the sense that social media is filled with trolls waiting to pounce on anyone, man, woman, or child for shooting anything under 14 points. Hunting has become a competition to see who can bag the biggest and the best.

Is that really what it’s all about? I think not, but that is my opinion. I’m old school and to me hunting is all about the unknown. It is about going out into the woods and waiting for days and not seeing one deer. It is about freezing and sweating and pushing yourself and your patience to the absolute limit then going out and doing it all over again the next day. It is about no guarantees, it’s hard work, intuition and skill not gleaned from watching TV but from years of training, years of disappointments followed by years of victory. Gadgets and equipment can’t make a hunter, they may make things easier but is anything really worth having ever easy?

I have probably hit a nerve with this post and pissed some people off but I’ve never been one to mince words or worry about offending others. All I am saying is that we can learn a lot from those old deer camp photos. Namely that sometimes size doesn’t matter. Isn’t it supposed to be about tradition, bringing home stories, lessons, and if you are lucky, some meat for the table?

Hunter’s Remorse

Too often, those of us who call ourselves hunters, are labeled as heartless beings who go about the forest firing at will, taking lives like robots with no feelings. We are ridiculed for harvesting animals for sustenance, attacked on social media for displaying our kill, and basically called killers. I would like to put all of those stereotypes to rest by simply stating that no true hunter enjoys taking a life. Last night I bagged a nice doe and a heartache. Perhaps my emotional turmoil is due to the fact that I am a woman, that I have many pets and love all animals, that two weeks ago I watched someone very dear to me take his last breath, that I keep picturing the deer in my head traipsing along the field road so sure of herself before veering up the hill towards me. The truth is, I have been hunting all my life and I deal with this every time I make a kill. One clean shot and a life ended instantly. I took a moment to thank my God and the animal for the life given and to ask forgiveness for being the one to end that perfect life. Today I am a mixed bag of emotions and I try to keep telling myself that there was a reason she came right to me but it isn’t helping. Does this emotional turmoil make me a better hunter? I think yes. Every time I go out in the field I am reminded of the seriousness of the task at hand. This is not target practice at the county fair shooting at stuffed clowns, this is a life. What people fail to realize is that some of us spend hours in our stands watching these animals in their homes going about their lives first-hand. We establish a connection to the land we hunt and the animals who live on it. We even go so far as to name deer who are frequently seen in our area. Then, when it comes down to shooting time we make the decision and a life ends. In my case, the hunt is done to obtain meat that will last me the entire year and to control herd populations. No matter how I justify it, however, the fact remains that I snuffed out a precious life. With all this being said, why do I do this year after year? I do it because it was a tradition in my family, because I thrive on pushing myself out in the woods to handle extreme weather and terrain, because deep down I know that those animals were put on this earth for sustenance, and because I feel better about consuming something that was taken without being pained or tortured in a slaughterhouse. Hopefully this will make some of you reevaluate your thoughts on hunters and hunting in general. Yes, there are those out there who do not feel the emotions I do when hunting. So much is their loss to not be able or willing to understand that it is more that just bringing home a trophy to show off, it is about playing a responsible role in the circle of life