Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Skeletons in My Pantry or Confessions of a Squirrel Hunter

"Wild Peaches"

When the world turns completely upside down
You say we'll emigrate to the Eastern Shore
Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore
We'll live among wild peach trees, miles from town,
You'll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown
Homespun, dyed butternut's dark gold colour.
Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor,
We'll swim in milk and honey till we drown.

The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong,
All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all.
The squirrels in their silver fur will fall
Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.

***Elinor Wylie

Once upon a time, in the 1980's, I fancied myself a hunter. Let me be more specific, and I say this with a hush: Once upon a time, I hunted squirrels. Squirrels! Squirrels. Squirrels. Those furry little creatures that frolic in parks and backyards. Today I cringe when I think about firing my .22 and plucking a squirrel from a tree branch, and when I remind myself that squirrels are member of the rodent family and that I often enjoyed eating fried squirrel with mashed tators & a good cream gravy, I shudder.

I vaguely remember my life as a squirrel hunter. At Pomona Elementary School, all the boys took a hunters' education course during their 5th grade year. We spent an entire week of school studying gun safety, hunting etiquette, and hunting techniques. The fact that we took time out of our studies to study hunting and that females were excluded from this good ol' boy activity, boggles my mind. In this pre-Columbine age, we actually handled guns in the classroom. The times have changed.

If you're going to trust me as a food blogger, I think it best that I continue to disclose such scandalous facts about my past.

Today I don't hunt or handle guns or eat squirrel. I don't have anything against those activities. As my five-year-old daughter would say, "It's just not my taste." I still enjoy romping around in the woods; I just like to leave the squirrels as I found them.

Don't take your guns to town,


NOTE: I found the poem for this post in a tattered copy of The Norton Anthology of American Literature. I found the following information about the poet interesting:

"Elinor Wylie characterized herself as poet who strove to make 'enamelled snuff-boxes' in words, the product of a 'small clean technique.' In so doing, she was intentionally rejecting the grand ambitions of many male poets of the time, preferring to celebrate the traditional woman's art of beautifying small spaces."

While I don't quite understand what this means, I do think it's healthy to reject the grand ambitions of most males.


Kate said...

Interesting, very interesting. Now what exactly does squirrel taste like? And did you actually do the squirrel butchering or was squirrel butchering taught in the girl's section of the class?

Anonymous said...

Love it.
My dad used to eat things like squirrel or rabbit or my personal favorite, Brains. Yuck...not my taste.
Back in his day, you ate whatever you could find I guess.

muddywaters said...

I tastes much like the dark meat on a chicken, but of course, there's not as much meat and it's a bit tough.

My father and grandfather always skinned and butchered the squirrels.