Saturday, July 31, 2010

a love story

At noon today I was sitting at a picnic table under a canopy of maple trees. Myself and a score of my classmates had just completed our Hunter's Safety Class and were now feasting on Axis, Red Stag, and Venison. I was a beautiful afernoon for a cookout and everyone was in high spirits. We'd just had the field section of our program (including shooting clays with a beautiful over/under shotgun, and a wonderful walk-though course with fake animals set up in weird scenarios where we had to explain whether or not we should shoot them). I now possess a Hunter's Safety Card and can apply for a small or large game license in the state of New York. Jenna the hunter. How about that?

Red Stag is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.

It feels later in the year than it is. A cold front has bedded down with Washington County, making the nights dip into the 40s and days hardly crawling in the high 70s. It's July but feels like September. It's getting me prematurely excited for fall. When I got back to the farm early this afternoon I grabbed my crook and ran up into the pasture. I used the staff to rattle a few apples out of the trees and hollered to the flock to come join me in the next field. They came gamboling uphill like overweight tourists and we all went through the gate together. Maude and Joseph ran to the far clover but Sal and I stood under the apple tree like old hands. I scratched his ear and watched his eyes close. His body leaned against mine. His neck arched his massive head up to meet my palm. I don't know what sheep think about, but I think Sal likes attention and is a master at savoring it. I crooked a few more green apples for him and he gobbled them up. Me standing, him chewing, the whole farm below us as perfect as waves.

Eventually he joined the others and I stood there, crook in hand. Wind came and whispered lies that it was late September. I believed them and closed my eyes, just like Sal. I was standing there in the same clothes I wore to run in, a tee shirt and shorts, but I imagined myself in a favorite pair of old jeans and a new flannel shirt: October clothing. (You know exactly what I mean: when the fabric is still plush and feels like hot chocolate if hot chocolate had a thread count.) Crows called out in the bottom field, distant but loud. I love that sound. I'd be lost without it. With my eyes still closed, with the sheep a few feet below me, I pictured myself in that same spot in three months. I imagined cold wind racing up my plaid sleeve. I tried to visualize what my arm would look like, what my body would feel like, after two months of running and farming. I felt the air fill the space between a tawny arm and new cotton and fell in love with the quarter-inch of invisible beauty that could live there. The hair on my skin pricked.

I sighed. Some things can't be helped.


Blogger Harpy 101 said...

You'll make an awesome movie, but I don't see how it can ever compare to Jenna Prose. I love your writing!

July 31, 2010 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger V said...

Just finished your book "Made from Scratch". Thank you. As I read it, I thought of the blessing of the experience and knowledge my own parents had labored to pass on to me and my brothers. Times continue to change but common sense and hard work are the best skills you can possess. Thought you would like to know, I got your book for $1 from the Nu-N-Nuf hospital thrift store!

July 31, 2010 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger R Dean said...

Jenna, congrats in completing your hunter safety course! I'm still not ready to hunt yet, but perhaps someday I will determine it is time to take another step forward toward self-sufficiency! R Dean

July 31, 2010 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger Hunington said...

Hmm, room full of men, and you probably the sole woman. Maybe you were planning on baggin' more than one kind of white tail (groan, I know).

July 31, 2010 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Nag, mostly kids, married men, and other women. No sheepdogs, all gundogs.

July 31, 2010 at 10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


July 31, 2010 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I'm thinking that I need a new flannel for this autumn- my current ones have lost their fuzzy nap, and you know with flannel it's all about the fuzz. So tell me: do you hate the girlie pink and blue flannels they have for women at LL Bean and just go for the men's shirts like I do?

August 1, 2010 at 1:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


August 1, 2010 at 2:13 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Hope you bag a big one this fall. Love the image of coming fall weather. I am ready for October days as well.

August 1, 2010 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger Tora: said...

Wow Jenna that was a beautiful post - I feel the exact same way about autumn, can't wait for it to get here.

Oh, and by the way - glad the cat's back!!!

August 1, 2010 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger TeaGrandma said...

I love reading your blog. You way with words captures feelings and scenes vividly but softly. While I am not young or a farmer, I have done a lot of vegetable gardening and yearning for farm animals. Hope you do well this fall hunting. Venison is delicious. I have great respect for how hard you work and the joy you take in it is obvious in your writing. Thank you for letting me share in your life through your blog! I read it every day.

August 1, 2010 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Harpy 101 said...

What TeaGrandma said!!! :D Beautifully put.

August 1, 2010 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

Sigh....homesick again! I'm glad you live in N.Y and can remind me of the beauty of Fall there, I never want to forget it.

Funny, I was just thinking, the other day, that I need some flannels. Somehow I don't have any anymore, I guess a trip to Gander Mountain is in order!

August 1, 2010 at 8:25 PM  

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