by Barbara FinneganUntil my family moved to the Shenandoah Valley, we were major-city suburban types. Paved roads, sidewalks everywhere, gutters, and trash and snow removal were just some of the amenities we expected without really paying attention to them. But my grandparents lived “in the country,” so I felt pretty knowledgeable about rural life.
Not long after our move, I was in conversation with a coworker, talking about the upcoming hunting season. She told me her husband loved to hunt, but they had a freezer full of venison and she didn’t want any more. “If he gets a deer this season, do you want it?” she asked.
“That would be great,” I answered enthusiastically. My tone was smooth and casual, but I thought to myself, “Yes! Free meat!” Feeling shrewd and thrifty, I pictured stacks of labeled and neatly wrapped meat in our freezer—and significant savings to our always-stretched grocery budget.
The weeks passed, and the conversation was forgotten, when I received a call at home one crisp fall day. The hunter had bagged a young buck, and it was hanging in a local barn. We could pick it up in a couple of days. Hanging in a barn! Pick it up? The whole thing?
And not only that, but at the end of the call, my friend added, “He’d like to keep the head, so you can just bring that back for him.”
Indeed. I thanked her calmly on the phone before the panic set in.
“Okay, we can do this,” I told myself. Surely our ancestors had done this many times. Not to worry. So, knowing how important it is to delegate to avoid becoming overwhelmed, I asked my husband to retrieve the deer from the barn. He brought it home in the hatchback of our small car.
Our children gathered ‘round the back of the car and peered at the carcass through the glass. “I think it’s alive, I saw it move,” said one son. “Why are its eyes open—can it see us?” said another. Putting on my cloak of parental calm and assurance, I told them no, it was not alive, and it couldn’t see us. And, for good measure, I told them we were getting our meat just like hunters did in the olden days. They weren’t convinced.
To be continued