Maybe he’s not mine. Yeah, I remember the delivery room, but maybe he was switched in the nursery for one of those hardy, Minnesota babies – it’s probably just a coincidence that he looks just like my husband.
At least once or twice a month, I realize I live in the wrong state. It’s hunting season right now in Minnesota and everywhere there are guys, wearing camo, driving camo-painted trucks, scanning the horizon for something to shoot. Soon, I will see dead deer in the back of pick up trucks at the grocery store. This week, there will be photos of camo-clad guys hoisting dead birds on the sports page of the local paper.
I grew up in the suburbs of San Francisco. My people drink wine, eat fine European cheeses and grill vegetables. In college, I majored in Beach and Boys and purposely selected a guy who enjoys the finer things of life. We like restaurants, nice hotels and wine on the patio on a summer evening. In the Fall we switch to red wine and enjoy the turning of the leaves. Somehow, Junior slapping a dead goose on my kitchen counter does not fit with this picture.
I’ve lived here for 20 years and have learned that Minnesotans are a different breed – closer to the earth. They love their cabins. Garrison Keiler said the woman are strong here in Lake Wobegon and he’s right. I have friends, fine hardy women, who sit all day in deer stands, waiting for Bambi to stroll by so they can blow him away. Walleye (a fish with big popping eyes) opener (the day the onslaught begins) is on Mother’s Day. Every year the lakes (we have 10,000 of them) are actually packed full of men and women, trolling, casting, jigging, bobbing – whatever they do, ignoring their mothers. I occasionally eat what they pull out of their live wells (the holes in their boats where they stash their fish) I like lakefood, as opposed to seafood, which actually comes from the sea. They don’t appreciate my distinction. While we’re on the subject of food, many freezers here are filled with mystery venison products, which they try to pawn off each year to make room for “this year’s deer.” Each Fall, they recirculate a popular lie that if you put venison in a stew you won’t be able to tell that it is disgusting deer meat. I fell for it, once.
Unlike my California brethren, many Minnesotans grew up on farms. Some of our family’s friends invited us to spend the weekend at Grandma’s dairy farm. To educate the California city slickers, they brought us to the milking parlor. Don’t be fooled – this place should NOT be called a parlor. We were herded into a lowered-trough between two rows of stalls. We stood there, unsuspecting, as a farmer backed up some huge cows into the stalls above us. He then proceeded to hook up some steel cylinders to teats on obscenely huge, veiny udders. My boys started snickering. It was then that one of the cows exploded from the back end. We stood horrified as manure sprayed everywhere. The cylinder guy didn’t bat an eye; just kept on working. The kids started screaming. Covering our noses and mouths, John and I dragged our gagging, crying offspring to the safety of the farm yard. Lesson learned – just drink milk, don’t ask where it comes from.
Up until now, I’ve been able to keep my California identity firmly intact. We live here but have not assimilated to the culture. But now, MY husband is considering buying MY son a shot gun when he turns eighteen. MY husband is entertaining the prospect of taking a shooting class. Country Music is blaring from sound systems in MY house. They are having giddy conversations about good hunting spots and tags that they plan to affix to their kills. What’s next, ammo on the grocery list?
Bravely, as only a California Girl can do, I will fight this detestable turn of events. I will not succumb to this sad downfall. I will not pluck a duck or any other sort of fowl. My walls will remain antler-free. Wine glass in hand, I will chop herbs and prepare meat from clean packages complete with freshness dates.
Blaze orange is NOT an attractive accent color.