Sunday, November 23, 2014

Deer Me

A friend was glad she shot a deer and shared her excitement and exuberant joy all over town. First the antlers appeared on Facebook and then she shared the photos in person as well as the detailed tale. Every move she made to harvest meat was epic and every episode shone clear from her adrenaline-soaked memory to my staid antique composure. I tried to be uncharacteristically demonstrative, but doubtless failed. At any rate, she said, “You want a haunch?” The query was answered in the affirmative and so it came in white paper with her presence to instruct the not-so-sharp wielder of sharpness, me.
I have cut up venison before. Venison is a name for deer we got from the French. We do not like to say we are having dead deer for supper so we say venison, just like when we don’t want to use the Anglo-Saxon “sweat” we use the French, “perspiration.” I got two nice roasts, a few good steaks and a bunch of stew meat from the generous gift. What was left of the meat, gristled, undesirable, useless, hanging onto the bone like moss on cypress, became late night repast for whatever roamed the nearby woods. I served it quietly and with great humility, hurrying away before some imagined spot-lighter could illumine me and take me for a sylvan ungulate, and I mean take me in both senses of the word take. We expressed our gratitude to our marksman, that is, markswoman friend and she departed gleeful to have shared the meat she herself had acquired through skill and hardihood and endurance in the deep woods she called, as is common around here, the deer woods.
Wouldn’t it make the prolific squirrels a bit indignant if they knew we were designating their woods as deer woods? I never heard a soul say squirrel woods, and no one ever uttered crow woods or armadillo woods. And, I doubt the deer have sense enough to be proud of the undeserved nomenclature. Why not call them animal woods, or game woods or just plain woods. I would.
Speaking of armadillos, if they would just learn to keep their cool and not jump they would live a lot longer. We see so many armadillos sleeping with their fathers, to use a biblical euphemism, in the middle of the road because they jump up and get clobbered. If they would stay low, they would survive. (Staying low may be good advice for many of us). I like armadillos even though they carry leprosy. They are armored possums and resemble them on the underside. The armadillo sow always has four young at a time and they are always of the same gender, because, I’m told, they come from a single four-chambered egg. I also read that these primitive creatures cannot swim. When they cross a stream, they walk turtle-like on the bottom, having the ability to hold their breath for a long time. Maybe that’s why you don’t see many of them in Mississippi.

I heard a man in Drew County say the best hamburger he ever had was in Amarillo and the best barbecued armadillo he ever had was in Hamburg. Go figure.

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