After a bath and reading five of our favorite books last night, August laid down on his little bed beside our bed with his animal friends tucked in beside him. I laid down beside him too, as he wasn't quite ready for me to leave and we talked about things and he told me some of his long stories and I was amazed at how much a three-year old child had to say, especially one who was half asleep.
Finally I told him that I needed to go take my shower so I could get in my bed and he let me go and was asleep within minutes and this morning when he woke up he stood up in his bed, his pajamas entirely off for some reason, and began his story-telling again. He crawled in bed with me and it was as if the entire night had merely been a breath he'd taken in his musings and instructions.
Boppy, who had already gotten up, came in and took the boy away to dress and to let me get a little more sleep but I was already awake at that point, infected and injected with August's morning enthusiasm.
There were, of course, pancakes. And bacon.
I am so grateful that I still have little ones to sit in the old high chair and eat from the princess plate. He stabbed and ate those pancakes in about five minutes despite his grandfather and I pleading with him to slow down and chew his food. He did not heed our warnings one bit.
"I is so hungry!" he said when I set his plate in front of him.
I do believe he was.
And now here's the part that might well freak some of you out. It freaks me out a little bit. Maybe more than a little bit but it's a reality here in Lloyd and what happened was that while we were eating breakfast, Jason called to tell Boppy that Owen had shot a buck. He's been hunting for quite some time but this was his first, uh, kill? I guess that's what we must call it. And he did wonderfully well, dropping the deer right where he stood so that death was instantaneous and painless. Owen talked to his Boppy and he was proud. I could tell. And so after breakfast Mr. Moon and August took the truck over to Lily and Jason's house and loaded the deer in the truck and brought it back here to clean.
This is a process that Owen has participated in before. If you are old enough to shoot a deer, you are old enough to see blood and guts and to help turn the animal into meat.
And so it was.
I went out and did something I don't ever do which was to say, "Show me your deer," and they did.
I told Owen that I was very proud of him and he said, "But you wish I didn't hunt, don't you?"
"Yes," I said honestly.
"You're terrified, aren't you?" he asked me.
"Yes," I said. And then, "No. I'm not."
And I'm not because if there is a right way to do this, that is what's being done.
Owen has been taught slowly and patiently and he will never be in a deer stand alone until he is much older.
This is all something that I do not really understand, even after having been married to a hunter for thirty-four years but what I do understand is that it's not necessary for me to understand.
And Owen will eat what he killed. And he will appreciate that. And he will see his family eat what he killed and I think he will be very proud.
Like I said, this is difficult to talk about. I never honestly considered this sort of situation when I married my husband. Perhaps I thought that he would become more domesticated over the years and lose that desire to get up in the early, early morning darkness to go walk through the woods and sit and watch as the day begins and the creatures stir and to sometimes shoot one of them and bring it home for me to cook.
Well, if I did think that, I was wrong.
And he has become very proud to see his sons-in-law become good hunters who provide clean meat for their families.
And now, his grandson.
I wonder if August will want to hunt. He is fascinated at this point by the deer and it doesn't bother him in the least that the deer is dead.
Gibson flat-out said that he doesn't want to see blood and guts. No way. And certainly, no one is going to ask him to hunt if he doesn't want to.
And while Owen and Jason and Boppy were doing whatever it is that they do out there in the garage, Jessie got here and we got to see Levon. Gibson asked if he could hold him.
"Sure," I said, and told him to sit down and then plopped the little guy on his lap.
Gibson is sort of blowing my mind recently. Not only is he still the sweetest child in the world, he's really starting to spell and read. He's constantly asking how to spell words or else he spells them for me on his own. He asked me how to spell "Levon" and I said, "You tell me."
And he figured it out without a hitch.
He wanted me to lay down on my bed with him to read Professor Wormbog In Search Of The Zipperump-A-Zoo, and I did and he read parts of it to me. I'm not surprised that he's learning to read- I mean, he is in the first grade, but what does surprise me is how he is constantly thinking about how words are spelled.
Each of my grandchildren is so very, very different than all of the others and each of them astonish me in different ways. You'd think I'd be a little more nonplussed about watching children go through their growth and developmental stages at this point in my life but honestly, I'm not. In a way it's like watching my own children grow up again, each one of them so different in the ways they learned and related to others, their own unique strengths and gifts, except that time seems to pass so quickly now that it's as if I am watching it all over again in fast-motion.
And speaking of which, Levon is walking more and more every day. He does the drunken sailor roll across the floor, his little legs spread far apart as he finds the balance it takes to be a biped. When you ask him a question, he nods his head, and he waves at every car which passes his yard when he's outside. He claps his hands with great enthusiasm and giggles when he is tickled. He's a dancin' fool when the music comes on. When I pretend to chew on his toes he offers his foot up over and over for me to continue to nibble. He nurses standing up, looking around, upside down.
My baby-baby is growing up too.
They all are.
And if I married a man who has influenced our grandson to be a hunter, well, that is what I have done. When it was almost time for Owen and Jason and Gibson to leave, I heated up some pizza for the boy. We chatted in the kitchen as he ate and it felt good to me to offer him food after the morning he'd had. He is really, really growing up. And he still loves his Mer. I know he does. And he knows I love him. He will always be my first grandchild. There is no changing that. I look at him, almost as tall as I am, parts of his hair dyed green, wearing silver hoops in his ears, watching out for and protecting his sister, and now, bringing meat to the family table and I wonder at the way things have turned out. I certainly never could have predicted any of this.
As I have said before, I never even dared to dream of a future where there was goodness and happiness. And if I had not married Owen's grandfather, there simply would not have been.
I am pretty certain of that.
One last picture. I found it from Thursday and had taken it at Thanksgiving but had forgotten it in the celebration and exhaustion of it all.
Maggie and August, eating their Thanksgiving dinner at the children's table, Maggie relaxing with her feet up on the table, obviously making a point to August in their conversation.
He does not seem to be convinced.
It's a life.
It's a damn good one.
August will be THE story teller for the entire family, fill him with some of your best! The hunting thing...Where I grew up it was as common as breathing, but then one year my Dad decided that he would rather not and could justify it no longer, he quit hunting and fishing too.My brother became a vegetarian and also quit blowing holes in critters. I went hunting once, the end, became a vegetarian for about twelve years until I was see through. Now I eat organic chicken with names- that probably hurts you more than the nameless deer. Every body has got to eat, I guess, but "pride" never entered our conversations about hunting, even when my brother became the perfect marksman. But that was in the wild west of Wyoming, an entirely different culture to be sure.ReplyDelete
August is certainly good at telling stories and making them up, too. For example- the imaginary bulldozer. I asked him what color it is and he said, "Green."Delete
He also told me that he was wearing a green shirt which is like the leaves on the trees and brown pants which are like the tree trunks.
It makes me HAPPY that you eat organic chickens with names. Those chickens were raised right, I am sure. I would eat my own chickens if I had to.
I imagine that Wyoming was a different culture but I imagine that even there, there might have been some sort of ritual-like activity when a young person killed his first deer. Or maybe not. But it's a pretty culture-wide ritual.
Humans are strange and in some ways, I guess it is good for some of us to practice old ways. We are way too separated from what meat actually is when we buy it at the store. I am, at least.
tony's dad hunted and tony tried but didn't have the heart for it. one thing about it, he knew how to be safe around a gun, and i think for that, it's worth knowing about. your grandson is taking his deer from the field to the table and that's the kind of hunting i respect the most.ReplyDelete
It IS good to know how to be safe around a gun. That's for sure. And it's also for sure that not everyone wants or needs to be a hunter.Delete
Especially in our world today.
I am a vegetarian but I am proud of Owen. In ancient human cultures this would mark the arrival of his manhood - providing meat for the tribe. And you know he didn't do it lightly or irreverently. No grandchild of yours ever could.ReplyDelete
This vegetarian completely agrees! Beats buying a burger from McDonalds.Delete
Nope. Owen is absolutely aware of the different aspects of what he is doing. And that is part of the responsibility of it for sure.Delete
As I've said before, if a person is hunting and eating what they kill, I don't see anything wrong with it. I don't really GET it, since I'd much rather just go to Publix -- and yes I realize that disassociates me from the killing, which has its own implications -- but to each his own! I'm glad Owen was proud of his kill and that his whole family will benefit. As Invisigal says above, it's a rite of passage.ReplyDelete
It IS a rite of passage, Steve. And Owen is a very thoughtful boy. Can you believe that the little boy you met is so grown up? Seems like just yesterday that we took that walk in Lloyd together and he was so impressed with you that he still remembers you.Delete
If your grandchildren are the future, then everything's going to be alright.ReplyDelete
Wow, though, Owen. Such a great grown up man boy. You're amazing!
Oh, Jo! I hope so! I hope everything's going to be all right.Delete
Owen is definitely a man-boy now. Or man-cub. I love him so.
We don't hunt. we don't even own a gun. but many of my neighbors do and they eat what they kill. I'd like to have some clean meat, as you put it, and Owen should be very proud of providing for his family, but hunting is not on my agenda, especially at this point in my life. I was raised a city girl after all.ReplyDelete
Perhaps you could trade something for some venison from one of your hunting neighbors. And I can surely give you recipes!Delete
I love the way you write about your grandchildren - with such warmth, such understanding and such respect too. To you their lives seem equal to your own. They are unique one-off human beings. Regarding the killing, I will just say that I am somebody who avoids killing flies.ReplyDelete
You know, Mr. P., I absolutely remember how it felt to be a child and because of that, it is impossible for me not to recognize each of my grandchildren as unique humans, each so very different and so worthy of respect. I think that some of us forget how complex and intense our thoughts and feelings can be when we are children. Perhaps the most complex and intense of our lives! And they are what shape us forever.Delete
I am not a fan of hunting although I respect peoples right to do so and surely don't hold it against them! It sounds as though Owen has not only been taught the technicalities of hunting, but he has the solemn pride and reverence that goes with the action. Proud of you, Owen!ReplyDelete
Our lives are so very different, and yet by heart we are so much the same. I marvel at it, these glimpses of life in Lloyd, so different from the life I know, and your authenticity and lovingness, always.ReplyDelete
Oh boy, do I understand your feelings about hunting. I was raised to think of hunters as the scum of the earth, but then married a man for whom hunting was a treasured part of his life. And he’s careful and ethical and, thankfully, hunts relatively few species. I’m such an animal lover that I hate the thought. But then, I do eat meat and know that the industrial lives and “processing “ that torture most of our food animals are much worse. So, it’s complicated. As we get older, my husband has reduced his hunting, eliminating deer hunting in part after learning about the social structures of deer, but also because he just didn’t enjoy it much any more. Everything changes.ReplyDelete
Hunting responsibly and safely preparing the meat are skills that shouldn't be lost. We may need them someday. I wish my father had been here to teach my son. Meanwhile, police are investigating and people are upset because a deer probably shot with a bow was found dead in some woods in my severely deer over-populated town.ReplyDelete