By Megan Nix
My grandpa’s dog Gretchen was for hunting, not for loving. She spent more time outside than she did with humans, and I had to trap her in the closet to pet her.
I’d roll my knuckles down her ridged spine and whisper nice things to her, but she would just stare out the yellow crack in the closet, indifferent and distanced. She didn’t seem to mind her relegation to the animal world. It was around then that I decided not to mind my place in the food chain, either.
Grandpa gave the pheasants to my grandma with one hand under their heads and the other cradling their slick, limp bodies. She lowered them into thyme and butter, shoulder to shoulder in a casserole dish.
My grandparents taught me that animals deserve tenderness, but that we also use them to enhance our lives.
At that time, a meal’s setting started with the rustling of reeds, the first V of wings over a sunlit lake. Today, it reads like this: a vacant field and a factory’s long shadow. Stench and slaughter. Chemical injections, electric probes, polio.
In college, I started veering away from meat in grocery stores and started eating ducks my friends had hunted in southern marshes. We fried catfish in iron skillets, caught crabs in shallow water. When I moved back to Denver, I met my fiance, Luke, who took me fly fishing on the Colorado, where he eventually proposed. I don’t mind that we scheduled our wedding around hunting season.
The spoils of my relationship are not only fish and venison, but also becoming part of a family built on the gentle, patient awareness that Luke and his brothers learned from their father on annual hunting trips. Long nights of cold and moonlight and the lonely bugle of a wandering sow will teach a good man how to truly listen.
Read the full piece at Denver Post