Twenty Feet Higher
I came home and Merlin started hollering soon as he saw my truck pull into the drive. Jasper just stared at me, by his side. It was like watching the Odd Couple if Tony and Felix were in the mob and you owed them money...and, if they were horses.
I guess it was nothing like the Odd Couple.
I promised them hay, but first I needed to cut some kindling and get the two stoves started. I had been out hunting for two hours at a friend's farm and in that time no one was here doing basic things like heating the farm house and feeding horses. I used the axe and hatchet, but it was angry work. I was frustrated with myself. I didn't regret not taking the shot—I was sure it would be a mistake—but I have built up getting a deer to mythic proportions and the closer I got the more it hurt to let them go. Shit. Hunting deer wasexactly like my love life.
There was a lot of sighing tonight, but none of it terminal. There's too much work to be done around here to waste energy moping about. I got the fires started, walked and fed the dogs, chopped firewood, and fed the livestock. The sheep were grateful for their hay, the goats nuzzled my smelly arms, and the pigs looked happier than ever before for their dinner. I may not prove to be a prolific hunter but there was so shortage of food on this little farm. I decided to stop thinking about all the day's little disappointments and nostalgia for men who I was certain did not even remember my middle name anymore and focus on the tangible. I am much better with the tangible.
I came inside and washed my hands with goats milk soap I milked and poured into molds myself. I was wearing a wool cap I knit. My home was heating up with fires I started with wood I used my horse to pull from my forest. These are simple things, but just going through how much of my life is touched by the animals I care for made me swell up with primal happiness. So I didn't have a deer, so what? I did have a story and felt my heart pound. A year ago on this day I wouldn't even be in the position to have a lame pity party over The One That Got Away. Instead of being twenty feet in the air with a deer rifle I'd be two feet from my computer screen making internet coupons. Things were quieter here, lonelier here, but certainly an improvement. What more could you ask for in twelve months than to feel you are moving in the direction of your passion? I gave up the 401k and health insurance to light fires and write you people love letters. How about that?
I chose well.