Wednesday, March 25, 2009
But . . . you're an Eskimo.
It is the second full day that we've been without our den mother. Really - it's the best day of them all. The first day each of us boys go through our own withdrawal and fake that we're doing alright.
The second day - we're true nomadic and enjoying full male bonding. Today we ate meat - bovine. Not moose nor caribou. I did not kill to provide for the family.
I've never killed anything with fur to provide for the family, actually. (Steve - we both know in 1994 it was out of necessity. Keep. Your. Mouth. Shut.). A couple of years ago - when we were new to the valley and where we're currently residing - I received a phone call. It was an invitation to go harvest a moose that was killed by a 3/4 ton truck on the highway. I accepted the invitation to gather said moose, then the question came: "Do you have the equipment we'll need to dress the moose?"
Now [nervous chuckle]- I didn't ask or think that I needed to actually bring clothing items for the dead moose, [Putting away old wool socks]. I said: "Boy - we just moved here and haven't unpacked everything yet."
My new friend let out a sigh: "Okay - we'll I guess I'll give Brooks a call and see if we could borrow his stuff. But you know how to field dress the moose right? I haven't done it before."
"Of course I do." I lied - I hung up the phone and went to Google to find out how to field dress a moose. I, in fact, did not need wool socks for the moose. I committed the instructions to memory and headed out the door.
There was a small group of us gathered together to take care of the fresh roadkill. All semi-recent transplants from the lower-48. All of them impressed to spend an evening with an Eskimo who was about to show them how to quarter and prepare a moose.
I stood over the carcass and declared: "That's a big moose."
Jeff - who was extremely excited to get started grabbed a knife and asked what he needed to do first.
"Do you want the traditional way or just slice and dice version?" I asked.
"Oh - the traditional way of course! Have you gotten a moose before? I'm sure you've dressed a lot of caribou and reindeer too." Alan exclaimed.
I stood forward and began to regale them with a story about how the steam from the animal was believed to be their spirit returning to the creator - after that I couldn't remember anything else from Red Dawn; so I said that we needed to take out the eyes so that we may see as the animal saw, to take the tongue - to taste the zest in life - and drink the blood to keep the cycle of life going.
Jeff from Utah was totally stoked about it and proceeded to do as I said. He even gave a prayer of thanksgiving as he first started to scoop out the eye with his knife. Then asked where he needed to make the first cut to start the field dressing. "The belly." I answered remembering the instructions from Google. "Then just scoop out the organs."
We had spent about 45 minutes hacking apart the dead animal when Brooks showed up.
"What are you guys doing?" Brooks asked - visibly confused by what he was witnessing. "Why didn't you skin it?"
Everyone looked at me.
Now - I have a card that was issued to me verifying that I am indeed of Eskimo heritage - what the card does not explain is that I was raised in a completely western civilized home including being a latch-key kid and MTV. I've never gone hunting or fishing growing up. I wasn't taught the ways of the Eskimo people: I grew up playing baseball - watching cable TV - and NWA.
I confessed my inability to field dress a moose. I told them I had no idea how to speak Yup'ik. I even told them that I lied when I said it was the truth that on real cold nights we share our wives.
Brooks walked over to the moose - or rather the hacked pieces of moose. "The meats rotten anyway. The muscles are full of blood from the impact - you've been wasting your time."
Jeff: "But . . . you're an Eskimo. You should know all this stuff."
"Well - I can tell you about the time when I was in the 4th grade and wrote a spoof about 'Ghostbusters' called 'Grossbusters' - you see instead of fighting ghosts . . . the Grossbusters were fighting garbage . . . where are you guys going?"