is it a turkey? is it a vulture?

Last week my coworkers were talking about a pair of fawns that have been hanging around the office park this summer. Their mother may have been hit by a car or may have abandoned them, but they seem to be thriving. The consensus about these two little Bambis was:

“So beautiful and so delicious.”

Hunting is a very, very big deal where we are living now. Last winter one of my husband’s students gave him some jerky made from a bear her father had shot, and almost all of the men and some of the women we know will hunt deer and turkeys in their respective seasons.

I have no moral problem with hunting as long as you’re going to eat what you kill (and assuming you’re not going after the Very Last of its Kind), and there is no denying that both deer and turkeys are overpopulated around here. I really respect that people who hunt are willing to own where their food comes from — it would be real hypocrisy, I think, to be squicked by hunting but have no problem with the conveniently plucked and beheaded chickens in the plastic wrap at the grocery store.*

Still, it’s a bit jarring to me to find that just about everyone I meet can shoot a gun.

Guns where we lived before meant gangs. Drugs. Dead kids in city parks.

It makes me think about how your place (and by place I mean the place you grow up, the one that imprints on you as The Way Things Are) can shape the way you think. If this IVF works,** our child will grow up in this place. More to the point, this will be his or her place. The world as it is/as it should be will mean mountains, rivers, deer (both alive in the woods and cooked on their friends’ plates, if not their own). Our child will not know what a ghetto bird is, but xie will be able to tell a turkey from a turkey vulture.

My husband and I are a little out of place here. As I have noted before, we are walking stereotypes — NPR-listening, fair-trade-coffee-swilling, Obama-voting, self-satisfied urbanites who don’t know jack shit about living in the country. There is almost no one else like us here, even given the fact that it’s a college town.

If we ever manage to spawn, we will have such an interesting time watching xir grow up. What is personality? What is taught by your family? And what do you just absorb from your place?

* Actually I spend a lot of time at the grocery store standing in front of the chickens and pondering the ethical weight of my possible choices. Factory farmed meat? “Hippie chicken” that is supposedly sustainably raised? Tofu, which was grown using pesticides and nonsustainable farming practices? I should really learn to make my own…It takes me a long time to shop for food.

**Yeah, right.


11 responses to “is it a turkey? is it a vulture?

  1. This is an interesting question. I feel far removed from the place where I grew up, but it’s still somehow a part of me. Whether I like it or not.

  2. Being a flaming liberal myself, your comment really made think. My family is originally from Holly Hill, SC and I remember being 10 or 11 and seeing my aunt kill a chicken for dinner.. I was SOO SHOCKED..and wicked torn because my aunt made the best fried chicken and this is how that greatness started.. snapping necks while pretending to feed one of the chickens in the yard. Le Sigh..
    Im also going through IVF too (insert secret handshake, hey, why can’t we have one too?), I often think about how and what type of life my hopefully future kid will have, yaknow? I’ve lived in the city my whole life but brought a house in the burbs. Going to school on the school bus and T was part of the school experience. It instilled responsibility in us, having to be punctual, having to keep a pass for a month, and even interacting with other patrons – giving our seats to the elderly, and learning when we needed to not be rowdy – we were definitely kids but it was healthy. My kids won’t experience that. Going down south for the summer and shelling peas, and running through fields with their cousins, jumping on a trampoline ALL day..seeing true poverty and true charity.. Despite my worries about what will hapoen come Nov 8, I will try to relish having to work harder to instill good manners! Whatever extra it means, even healthy doses of tough love, I will do my hardest.

    My uncle in MS hunts for food. He doesn’t actually like guns and while he owns, uses and is more than proficient with the guns and rifles he has, he’s been using bows and arrows for about the past 10 years. I don’t know the reason and honestly never thought to ask(but will).

    I know that was long and meandering but thank you for making me think this evening.

    And good luck!

  3. Oh, wow, I am so bummed that my students don’t give me bear jerky. I have wished death on deer many times, and I’ve fired a gun, a few different kinds, in fact, but I know I couldn’t kill anything unless I needed to protect my family. Possibly not even then. So hunting….nope. I guess that’s consistent with my vegetariansim, though. And yeah, I can’t get over the fact that my child is from Ohio. OHIO. How on earth did that happen? And she will identity with this place in all sorts of ways I won’t, so odd. Anyway, you end with a fascinating set of questions that I can’t begin to answer! I think my greatest hope is that there will be enough interesting people (whatever I mean by that) for all my babies to have amazing, creative, thoughtful friends, of the kind that shaped me so much. It’s easier to count on that in places like Santa Fe and Berkelely, where I was formed, so to speak.

    • Dude, I’m from Ohio! Really, it’s not all farmland, though I can’t pretend it’s anything like Santa Fe or Berkeley (neither of which I’ve ever been to). I think the thing to remember is that there are interesting people *everywhere.* People are sort of inherently interesting, don’t you think? But the question is, how will the kinds of interesting people Bun Bun and Bunlet meet intersect with the geography and dominant culture of the place where they grow up, and how will it help shape them into their own brand of interesting? Not that they aren’t already interesting, of course.

  4. Hmm, maybe I’m an oddball, but I don’t really think of the place where I grew up as “the world as it is/as it should be” in the way you describe. Quite the opposite, actually: I never felt I fit in where I grew up (small town in New Mexico) and couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there as soon as I was old enough. And although the geography was different, people in my hometown were much like those you describe where you now live.

    I think the way I turned out was, in large part, because of my family, specifically my father and his mother (who lived with us throughout my childhood). They were from Ireland and viewed the world much differently than anyone else in my hometown. In the end, I think their influence on me was of much greater consequences than my larger environment.

    So don’t be so sure that your future child(ren) won’t grow up to be “NPR-listening, fair-trade-coffee-swilling, Obama-voting, and self-satisfied” like you. I came from small-town, country America, and I did. 😉

    • Interesting. I can definitely see how parents shape you regardless of environment (I look at my father-in-law and I see the future….), and it’s always special to have an intersection of cultures like you did growing up. I think living abroad has made me more sensitive to this kind of thing — the culture you find around you without trying, and the culture you create/maintain in your home, and the ways in which those things combine to help shape someone’s personality.

  5. “So beautiful and so delicious.” For some reason this sentence creeps me out. Haha. But I understand what you mean. I come from middle America, albeit the suburbs of a “large” city, and a LOT of people that I grew up with might think I’m crazy for many of my liberal leanings. Case in point: Todd Akin is, technically speaking, “my” representative. UGH!

    • I lived in KCMO until last year. Emanuel Cleaver was my representative there — I often thought about how the politics change with every 10 miles you travel east of the state line. Though you’re closer to STL, right?

      And yeah, “so beautiful and so delicious” creeped me the fuck out too. 🙂

      • Yeah, we moved to the suburbs of STL when I was 4; it’s absolutely my hometown. And, although I actually live in Spain, my US address (and therefore my voting district) is at my parents house there in Akin-country. Sigh.I’ve often thought MO is a bit like the USA on a smaller scale: blueish on the edges and red as hell in the middle.

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