Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 81

Welcome to America during hard economic times... The sun has been up for about two hours now and there's no sign of the guys. Haven't heard any shooting at all, so I'm guessing that the rain is having an effect on things this morning. What they need is a cold, clear morning. The deer are all bedded down today and aren't going to be moving in this weather.

Everybody is out today. I saw some of the older guys driving down the hill to the deli. They go down there to dry out and will be back around noon.

For the guys on this hill, the stakes are pretty high this year. In the next farmhouse up the hill, there's a family whose having a tough time. He was a pilot until a few months ago when he just one day didn't have a job anymore. The family is one of the newer ones on the hill. They've lived there for about eight years now. They have six kids and she works as a substitute for the school... their only "steady income" right now. When they moved in, they put everything they had into their new home. Now they're in danger of losing it and, while winter hasn't hit yet, heating is going to be a major issue.

Everyone on the hill knows and consequently filed for every tag they could get...even us. The husband and I don't need more that two deer at the most. The third will go to this family, along with the extras everyone else gets. They will need at least six to get through a year and could probably use eight.

Could this family go on the welfare system? Yes they could, but I don't see that happening in this community...especially with a family like this one. They are hard working people who have come into hard times and I know that this neighborhood is going to take care of them because, here, we rely on each other, not the government. This is how we survive up here and always have.

During my husband's deployments, which lasted almost two years, I wasn't alone. Every eye on this mountain was watching and when I needed help, it was here. Not once was my dignity imposed upon. Things would just happen. If the snow was coming too fast, the snow plough fairy would show up and dig us out in the middle of the night and you'd better believe that my mailbox was always kept accessible. If my tire was flat, one of the guys would show up and help me fix it. If we needed food, it would be in a box by the door. There would never be a note or anything else asking for recognition, just a quiet reassurance that everyone was standing behind us on this hill.

So, yes, we eat deer meat up here. We can buy meat in the stores, but if we had to do that for all of our meat, everyone in the county would be on food stamps because no one could afford to do it. The deer and game, the gardens and the fruit trees are all an integral part of life here and, yes, we do survive on them. The stores are used for toilet paper, laundry soap and supplementing the bulk of our diet that we provide for ourselves and our neighbors. Some may see this as being "primitive." We see it as independence and, as a community, we are very proud of it. To us, "primitive" would be standing by and doing nothing but watching as our neighbors get devoured by bureaucracy when part of the solution is walking around eating our front yards.

I guess it all depends upon the culture you live in.

The guys came in around 10:00 am. I'd like to think it was the aroma of my made from scratch biscuits, but I don't think it was. A father was seen walking the woods with his eldest son. If he's come down this far, it means there was nothing moving up at his place and, as they move down the hill, the "first fruits" of the season and the mountain are being gifted to them. There are enough deer for all of us here, and to us, there is nothing more important than the lessons of independence that father is teaching his son this day.

Happy wandering!

The Writer...and her dog, Bear


The Boisterous Butterfly said...

I'm glad you explained this system to me. It is very different than anything I am used to and doesn't exist in this overcrowded country.

We don't count our wealth in how many deer we were able to shoot during the season.

We don't have to rely on that and here there is no shame in going to the welfare department to get help. It is a normal part of life.

We live in the welfare state and have food and housing and health insurance even when we have no income. It's just a difference in attitudes, I suppose.

I do have to mention that I am a socialist, who is a person who is much feared in America it seems.

It just means that I stand for justice and equality for all.

Therra Cathryn said...

Ah, venison. I love it. So does my dog Tumbleweed. He fancies himself a deer hunter, with his 8 teeth. In fact he is a "deer chaser". We pretend not to know the difference for his pride is sharp, even if his teeth are not.

Thanks for the lovely overview of your community and fiercely independent neighborhood. That reminds me of my father's life growing up.

I have lived in both Europe and the U.S. and they are indeed very different lifestyles. I would have to say I could spend all day listing the benefits of each - and there are many - but I will say life is less stressful in Europe. America is a young country and like all teenagers can be very rambuctious. But it's got some of the greatest people and landscapes on earth. And at least two of the best cities on the planet! Woo hoo! Kisses to the dogs.