Blood, guts, dust, and sagebrush.
Those words sum up some of my favorite family moments. Strange, huh?
See, my husband grew up hunting and somehow turned this tree-hugging hippie into a hunter too. I’m still trying to figure out where and when that happened. I think it was after I learned about the atrocities that happen at meat farms and about the effects of those horrendous conditions on our food. It turns out that my desire to consume organic and sustainable food (hello, hippie!) meshes pretty well with my husband’s desire to hunt and kill our own meat (hello, redneck!). I know it sure isn’t wasn’t the camo! (side rant: Why does women’s hunting gear have to be trimmed in pink??? You’d better believe that Cabela’s received a strongly worded letter from me about the limited selection of women’s hunting gear and the over-abundance of pink on it!)
Back to the story…
My husband and I also both grew up in California – he in the beautiful Sierra Foothills, and me on the Redwood Coast. But we somehow ended up in Nevada and fell in love with sagebrush. I’m still trying to figure that one out too.
Now our summer family getaways often revolve around kicking up dust on a old mining trail, searching for antlers. Those weekends when we find the ruins of a ghost town, or soak away our cares in a hot spring – those are the weekends that we feel like we know what life is all about.
Our daughters are no shrinking violets, and they’ve come to love our rural adventures as well. They learn about petroglyphs and fossils by seeing them in person. They learn about the flora and fauna of their home state by seeing and smelling it while hiking through it. They’ve seen landmarks their friends might only read about in books.
They also learn about life and death, and they know where their burgers come from because they had a hand in wrangling that meat. And they’ve seen their mom cry after pulling the trigger, knowing that a life was taken so that life can also be sustained. Yes, it’s true, I cry. Judge if you want.
The coolest part for me is seeing my daughters investigating the animal’s organs, comparing the size of an antelope heart to a deer heart, or looking in the stomach to see what kind of food it has most recently eaten.
I KNOW, I KNOW, it sounds macabre, but stop and think about your high school biology class and dissecting frogs. Gross or not, that stuff is COOL! And how amazing that my two girlie-girls who dress up in tutus and paint their nails on a regular basis want to get elbow-deep in animal intestines! How inspiring that they want to see how the joints work to understand how some animals seem to bounce across the desert while others seem to effortlessly glide.
My daughters know just how DARK nighttime can get on a new moon when there are no lights around for hundreds of miles. They’ve fallen asleep under a blazing, brilliant blanket of stars and awoken to the sunrise peeking over mountaintops. They’ve snuggled into their sleeping bags and made up stories to scare each other as coyotes bark in the distance and wild horses meander across the range. It’s just our family of four surrounded and infused by nature. It’s these memories that turned this hemp hippie into a grudgingly country girl. And it’s these memories that connect our family when the distractions of “real life” entangle us.
So yeah, it’s kinda gross, but blood and guts mingled with dust and sagebrush are symbols for our family. Who would have ever thought?