Monday, December 26, 2016

Ponce Bourré

Recently, I came across George Graham's Acadiana Table blog "Ponce Upon a Time" where he wrote about Ponce Bourré. It took me all the way back to my childhood.

When I was just a young boy, six or seven, my father would have a boucherie. He would choose one of his pigs and butcher it. The event usually took place in February or sometimes in March depending on the weather. Since we had no refrigeration, it had to be cold outside. He would invite one of the neighbors, and they would usually bring a pig to butcher too. There were two ways to kill the animal with which I was familiar. One was to hit the pig in the forehead using a heavy object like a hammer or post. The other was to shoot the pig. My father preferred shooting it because it insured that the animal would not suffer from a misplaced blow. After the pig was downed, my father quickly gathered as much of the blood that he could to be used to create blood boudin, which is another story I will share sometime in the future. The pig carcass was then immersed in boiling water and the skin shaved carefully. The skin would be used to make cracklings and to render lard for cooking. Everything on that pig was used. The tail and the ears, considered delicacies, were roasted over an open fire by the kids and eaten on the spot. The intestines, heart, liver, hooves, everything, was cleaned, used in a dish, or saved for future use. Absolutely nothing was wasted.

One of my favorites was the pig stomach. Daddy would clean it carefully, rinsing it several times in clean cold water. Then he would cook up some onions, peppers (at least one Jalapeno to spice it up a bit), celery, garlic, whatever we had available, and add that to a mixture of cooked ground pork, and rice. To that he would add fresh parsley and green onion tops. Then he would stuff the stomach and sew it shut with butcher's twine. He had a small building outside that he used to smoke sausages, hams and other meats. He would place the stuffed stomach in there for most of the day.

After the boucherie was complete, and everything was either being smoked, wrapped up in freezer paper, or placed in some sort of brine for later use, it was time to celebrate. Daddy would grab the Ponce Bourré from the smoke house, and Momma would place it in our old blackened pot along with some vegetables (carrots, potatoes, celery, onions—again whatever was available) and about a couple of cups of some kind of broth—usually something that came from the pig. She would cover the pot, place it in the oven, and cook it for at least a couple of hours. To this day, if I close my eyes and think about it, I can remember the succulent smoky aroma that filled the house as it cooked. When it was done, my mother, sister, neighbors, and I would wait patiently, mouths watering, while my father sliced the ponce into quarter-inch slices.

Since those days, I've eaten my share of Ponce Bourré, but something was always missing, and I've finally figured it out. It's the ritualistic experience of raising, killing, cleaning, and cooking the pig. The ponce was reward for a job well done.


If you're interested in the recipe for Ponce Bourré, visit Acadiana Table. Graham has a good recipe in his blog for Sweet Potato Ponce. There are also other recipes on the internet if you google it. Alternately, if you find yourself in Louisiana around Lafayette, Scott, Sunset, Eunice, Ville Platte, or Church Point, Graham also has a list of places that offer it. You don't even have to kill the pig.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fixing Fences

Every board tells a story if you know how to read it: when it was harvested; where it was harvested; from what part of the tree it was harvested; how it was harvested and prepared; who likely harvested it. The story starts with the tree.
David Alpha
Carpenter & Artist

The first day:

I walk by this neighborhood every day on my way to work, but I have never traveled down this particular street. I don't know how I could have missed it. It's a wonderful street; the houses are mostly old, made of brick or stone, and many of them have wooden shingles on the roofs.
Most of the lawns are green, mowed and devoid of weeds and the shrubbery is trimmed. Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Mercedes fill most of the garages and driveways.

One house in particular catches my eye. It is a white, two story, wooden structure and doesn't quite seem to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood. The house could use a new coat of paint, but it isn't to the point of being disgraceful. The trim is forest green and looks fresh. The roof is covered with some sort of dark, asphalt shingles that are beginning to reflect the wear and tear of age and will need replacement in the next year or so. A faded red chimney pokes out of the roof. I circle the house and take the back street—a graveled lane really with no name. The back of the house looks a little shabbier than the front. Leaves from the neighbor's oak and the gumball on the side of the house fill the gutters. The neighboring yard, like most of the back yards along the lane, is enclosed in a cedar fence about six feet tall.

But not this house. The fence is different here.

It is a funny sort of fence—two horizontal, two-by-six boards face down, running parallel, about four feet apart. The bottom one is about a foot off the rocky ground. Anchored into the two boards and standing vertical between them are one-by-six boards, about two inches apart, placed slightly askew to allow for wind flow but to block the small back yard from the direct view of the casual passer-by. However, a careful observer, if he stops and takes the time to look, can see into the yard through the two-inch gaps.

An old man stands next to the fence.

A huge hole, about thirteen feet long, exists where the vertical boards are torn out. A stack of forty or fifty newly cut boards lay neatly stacked at the old man's feet; the old slats are piled haphazardly along the outside of the fence and on the graveled driveway, which dead ends at the gumball tree. The old man measures one of the cut boards between the two horizontal runners. It is at least two inches too short. It occurs to me, as it must occur to the old man that the stack at his feet must all be two inches too short.

I can see the back yard plainly through the hole in the fence. The old man is a gardener of sorts; I see tomato plants, and collard greens, and what looks like onions or garlic. The vegetable garden sits in the middle of the yard, probably to take advantage of whatever sun might get past his neighbor's oak tree and cedar fence. Tucked away in the corner of the yard is a flowerbed; I recognize a few sun-starved zinnias and marigolds. A small concrete patio fronts a sliding glass door. Two white, plastic chairs sit side by side and face the hole in the fence.

The old man looks to be in his seventies—baseball cap slightly askew, silky white hair shoots out from under it, furrowed face, frail body leans slightly forward. He scratches his head with thin, age-splotched hands; the cap teeters precariously on his slightly pointy head. There is a look of uncomprehending incredulity on his face, as if suddenly the laws of physics do not work anymore.

I want to stop and tell the old man that only a fool makes all his cuts without first making a workable model. Instead, I say, "Looks like you missed your mark" in my most neighborly tone.

The old man starts visibly. He gives me a wild, trapped look and then lowers his eyes.

"Yup," he says and shuffles away, still scratching his head.

The second day:

I walk by the old man's fence again. A rusted old Chevrolet is parked in the driveway. An extension cord runs from the pickup to the house. An old Black and Decker circular saw, plugged and ready to go, lies on its side upon the tailgate. The pickup bed is littered with carpentry tools: yardsticks, handsaws, hammers, a toolbox opened and filled with assorted nails and screws. A man, only slightly younger than the old man and wearing a leather tool belt, stands next to the hole in the fence. He holds one of the miss-measured slats and scratches his head, knocking his soiled baseball cap askew, revealing a shock of white hair against a dark skull. I can almost see his mind work.

The old man appears from inside the house. He nods to me as I go by and joins the carpenter. They stand together and stare at the board.

I imagine the conversation they must have as I continue on my way.

"The way I see it," the carpenter might say, "you have three choices."

"What are they?" the old man might ask.

"Number one: you could buy some more one by sixes and start all over again and use these boards for something else." He indicates the stack of miss-measured boards with his head.

"Number two?"

"Number two: you could tear down the fence and move those two by sixes closer together by two inches or so. You save your boards that way but it would involve a lot of work and you would end up paying me more, of course."

"And my last choice?"

"Your last choice: you could use the good parts of the boards you ripped out as extension pieces."

"Wouldn't that look like shit?"

"Yup, but it's the cheapest way out."

"How long would it take you?"

"The rest of the day."

The old man might hesitate a moment and then give the carpenter the go-ahead.

"Yup," the old man might say. "Might as well get started. Time is money."

The third day:

The old man stands in the lane and admires his rebuilt fence. A paintbrush drips green paint onto the gravel. The hole in the fence has been repaired. Each miss-measured board sports an extension riding piggyback on it. The effect is like the beginning of a domino tumble.

"I see you got it fixed," I say and stand next to the old man.

He looks at me a moment, perhaps wondering who I am and debating whether to strike up a conversation.

"Yup," he says finally.

"Looks like dominoes falling."

"Yup." The old man scratches his head. "It'll do," he adds after a while.

"Yup," I say and continue on my way.

The fourth day:

I pass by the fence again. The old man is not out, or perhaps the fence hides him; I can only catch brief glimpses into the yard between the slats as I walk by. I am in too much of a hurry to stop and look carefully.

Three months later:

The green fence is gone. It was there this morning, but it is no longer standing this afternoon. The house looks naked without it. The compost pile next to the garden is suddenly exposed. A cat scratches in the flowerbed. A pickup truck is parked on the lane near the scar where the fence used to be and a young man tosses slats into the truck. A flatbed truck with the name of a local lumber company is parked in the middle of the lane behind the pickup. Fresh new cedar boards are stacked on it. Two men carefully unload the boards onto the driveway. I look around for the old man, but he is nowhere in sight.

The next morning:

A small tractor with an auger hooked onto the rear end of it drills into the earth. A middle-aged man wearing a baseball cap and coveralls guides it carefully over brightly painted green X's on the grass. Fluorescent yellow and red arrows point out where telephone, gas, and water lines are placed. A young man, also wearing a baseball cap and coveralls, carefully places the four by four posts into the holes.

That afternoon:

The new fence is partially up already. The posts are in the ground and the two by four top and bottom runners are up and part of the inside slats are lined up and attached. The tractor is loaded on a trailer hooked behind a new model pickup truck: the auger is raised threateningly into the air. The young man holds a board up while the middle-aged man nails it up using an air gun. The boards have been carefully trimmed to accommodate the uneven ground. There are no spaces between the boards.

The next morning:

The interior slats are all up and part of the exterior is up. The backyard is no longer visible from the road. Only the worn roof is visible. The middle-aged man is busy hanging a gate which opens up onto the driveway, now an alleyway between fences. The young man steadies the gate for him.

That afternoon:

The fence is all done. It is a work of art, rising and falling beautifully with the lay of the yard. It runs from the back of the old man's house parallel with his neighbor's fence for about fifty feet. Then it right angles and follows the graveled lane for another sixty feet or so, parallel with the cedar fence across the lane before right angling again to about mid-house. Then it right angles again and runs about ten feet to come to rest against the house. The top of the fence is capped off with two by fours. There are two gates in the fence; one, which opens onto the driveway where a group of men is busily constructing a carport, and the other gate, opens up onto the front yard on the other side of the house. The gates are held up and closed with beautiful, antiquated, black hinges and locking hardware.

The next morning:

The plain white van with Southwest Windows and Siding stenciled across both sides is parked in the back lane. A small army of men is busy installing siding to the house. The carport is nearly finished.

That afternoon:

The siding people are still at work. A tree removal service has joined them. A large truck with a cherry picker bucket behind it is backed up against the gumball tree. A man wielding a chainsaw is cutting away at it. Painters and carpet cleaners are parked along the curb in front of the house. A van advertising hardwood floors is leaving.

Two weeks later:

I don't remember what the old man's house used to look like anymore. It has suddenly been transformed from an 'old house" to a sophisticated and modern "home."

The old man stands next to his fence, scratching his head. I have not seen him for a long time.

"Nice new fence," I say, crossing the street toward him. He starts and acknowledges me.

"Yup," he says. "House doesn't seem the same either."

I nod and walk on.

Three days later:

There's a real estate sign in the old man's front yard. I am almost tempted to ask to see the house. A red sports car is parked in the front driveway and a young businessperson talks earnestly with the old man. He notices me in the street and nods.

I nod back.

That afternoon:

I see the old man working in his front yard—pulling weeds out of a flowerbed. I tell him hello, and he stops what he is doing and looks up at me.

"Having any luck selling your house?" I say, trying to start a conversation.

The old man stands and dusts off his hands.

"Yup," he says. "Got this hot shot lawyer boy coming this afternoon to sign the papers."

I nod my head up and down for a moment and try to find something to say, but nothing comes to mind.

A week later:

The old man is gone. The real estate sign is gone. Someone sprayed the front yard and completely killed all the grass. I assume they are going to plant a new yard and in a few weeks, I will see a fresh new cover of perennial rye and Kentucky Blue grass. And once every two weeks or so, the lawn care truck will park on the curbside and spray fertilizer and poison to help the new grass along. I wonder how the back yard has changed behind the new fence, but I will never know. I see the lawyer's Mercedes parked in the driveway. He keeps it waxed and cleaned.

The house does not feel the same anymore, so I take to walking along another street.

The next day:

I imagine a conversation I might have had with the old man.

"I didn't want to sell," the old man says breaking the silence between us. "But after I put that new fence up, the old house didn't feel the same."

I nod to show him that I agree.

"Why did you put in the new fence?" I ask.

"My son and daughter-in-law suggested I do that. They said it would add value to my place. But once I started that, then it seemed logical to add the carport, and that led to the siding, which led to the new roof, which in turn led to cutting down the gumball and getting all that work done inside. Before I knew it, I didn't like my place anymore. That's when I decided to sell."

"I'm going to miss seeing your house on my way to work every day."

"Yup," the old man says.

I know that the conversation is faulty; the old man would never say so much.

I am startled from my reverie when a dog runs up to me and sniffs my legs. He is an Irish setter with long reddish brown fur, dark liquid eyes, and floppy ears. He acts somewhat stupid, as if he wants to please but doesn't quite know how. He looks up at me and wags his tail and his whole body wags with it. I drop to one knee and he nudges me with a wet nose. I grab his collar and take him to the old woman with thin silky white hair waiting on the curb.

"Thanks," she says. "He usually comes right back to me. I don't know why he's so excited this morning."

I admire the woman’s house. It is a dark red brick home with green wood trim. The house looks old, like it has been in this neighborhood for a long time. However, it does not look like the rest of the houses in the neighborhood; it is smaller and less modern. I ask the woman about it and indeed the house is old, over fifty years. It was one of the first houses on the street.

I tell her I like it and she thanks me.

There are no fences around her house—only a freshly painted white gate at the end of the front sidewalk. I like that too, and I imagine who could have come up with that concept.

The next day:

The dog comes out to meet me again. I scratch him behind the ear a moment or two and study the house. I try to imagine who first lived in it and what the neighborhood must have looked like. Then I start to build a story around the house, and I know that the story will grow each time I pass by it.

I look forward to the trip.

Houses talk to you. You can easily read the stories in the wallpaper you peel back, or the wood floors you sand, or the walls you tear down and rebuild. Give me an old house any day before a shiny new one. An old house has character; a new house has to live a while before it develops character.
David Alpha

Carpenter & Artist

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Tim L. Williams' Skull Fragments

If you are a fan of noir fiction, I can't think of a better book that you should read than Tim L. Williams' Skull Fragments. Tim has won awards for his stories, been included in the Best American Mystery Stories in 2004 and 2012, and has been published in such notable magazines as Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Plots with Guns. A resident of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, he knows his setting and characters. What I found most exciting about Tim's stories was his attention to detail and his treatment of character. His plots were no powder puffs either.
Product Details
Skull Fragments
In the first story of the collection, "Where That Morning Sun Goes Down," two down-and-out, dope heads visit a Huddle House just off the Western Kentucky Parkway four days after they murdered a drug dealer and made off with his merchandise. Listen to how the narrator describes himself and Donny Ray, the other character: "There's dirt on my face and my clothes reek of body odor and beer sweat and the gasoline that we've been syphoning from cars all over the county. Donny Ray is just as bad, with his eyes bulging and his flannel shirt caked with mud and dead leaves. We look to be the kind that make decent people vote for law and order and consider buying a gun." Later, when the two characters receive their meals, the narrator describes them like this: "The food smells good, but the sight of those cataracted eggs and the smears of blood from the steak and the sheen of chili grease on the hash browns brings sour vomit to my throat." If you don't get the sense of the dark tone of this piece, then you haven't been reading. This is no Cinderella story.
These stories are harsh. You see the underbelly of a culture seldom available to outsiders. The characters live under the radar. They are the poor, the downtrodden, the murderers, the thieves, the physically and mentally broken, like the old man in "Promissory Notes" whose "skin is the color of a nicotine stain, his face bloated and twitching, his breath heavy with rot." You cringe at the evil they inflict on each other, and yet, you are fascinated by them, like the crash on the highway that you know you don't want to see, but can't help looking anyway.
For all the evil, grotesqueness, and horror in this collection, there is also love. Over and over, you see these fractured characters reach out to each other for support and love. In "The Last Wrestling Bear in West Kentucky," the narrator who abandoned his five-year-old son spends the evening with him as an adult son and thinks, "This is my son: a murderer, a knight errant to lost girls, a rescuer of maltreated bears, a grown man who has almost forgiven his wayward father." You can hear the admiration and pride in the words. In "Something about Teddy," Lennox, who is a traveling salesman and killer, can't stop thinking about his wife dying of cancer, even as he is in the middle of a murder. In all these stories, under the darkness and evil, there are connections between the characters that humanizes them. Yes, they do things that normal people wouldn't do, but this is not a "normal" world they live in.
In the end, this is a must-read collection of noir stories. For all their problems and foibles, these characters' determination and grit in the face of poverty and hopelessness is nothing short of heroic. Take Lennox, the traveling salesman, for example. He is a murderer and kills without conscience. Yet, in the story, he comes off almost as a hero. Killing for him is neat and tidy—no suffering. I am reminded of a hunter who looks for the kill shot to make sure the animal does not suffer. Don't let the shock and horror of these stories stop you. These characters are trying to survive in a world that does not want or understand them. You might even admire them for that.


Today, I am reviewing Tim L. Williams' Skull Fragments, a collection of short stories that I thoroughly enjoyed for the author's writing skills. He had me hooked from the first story, which sets the tone of very other stories that follows. I am eagerly anticipating seeing more of Tim's work. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Owl or Why I Don't Hunt Anymore

My friend's six-year-old child asked me why I don't hunt.
I know her daddy does.  He owns a high-powered Russian designed, Chinese made, assault rifle that can drop a deer from a hundred yards away.  Of course, I've never really seen him kill an animal, but he is deadly with aluminum cans, plastic milk jugs, cardboard boxes, and paper targets.  I went with him recently to set the scope on his assault rifle. 
I asked him why he hunts.
"I like the taste of wild meat," he replied while trying to figure out whether to turn the horizontal screw on his scope up or down—the instructions were Russian, translated into Chinese, translated into English. "It goes deeper than that, though. I have this masculine urge to provide for my family. When I kill an animal and place it on the table, I get this incredible sense of accomplishment." He turned the screw up one full turn, sighted through the scope at a beer can about twenty-five yards away and slowly squeezed the trigger the way I have seen professionals do it on television. The bullet smashed into the dust about ten feet to the left of the beer can. The loud report startled me, and I pulled the earplugs from my jacket pocket and placed them in my ears—too late. My eardrums went numb and started buzzing. The strong gunpowder smell stirred something in me—I was reminded of Christmas and Fourth of July.
My friend cursed and took up the screwdriver again. I unplugged my ears to hear him better. This time he turned the screw two full turns down.
"At least when I kill something," my friend said. "I know where it came from and how it was prepared." He shot again before I had a chance to plug my ears. The bullet hit about ten feet to the right of the beer can.
I used to feel like my friend.
I was the friend of hunters, the cousin of hunters, the nephew of hunters, and the son of a hunter. I was the terror of Chataignier, where I grew up. No wild bird was safe from my BB gun. Cardinals, robins, mockingbirds, sparrows, and blue jays all fell before my BB barrage. Then one day, Momma saw me kill a cardinal and made me eat it. Cardinals are tough and rather tasteless, so I stopped killing them. When she made me eat whatever I killed, I became more selective. Mockingbirds tasted a lot like cardinals, so I stopped killing them, too. Blue jays were tough, unpalatable, and loud and spiteful, and although I felt that removing one from the earth was a good thing, I knew that if Momma found me with one, she would force me to eat it, so I stopped killing them, too. Robins were very tasty, but it was illegal to hunt them, and I couldn't chance the stiff fines they carried, so I tended to leave them alone unless the opportunity was one I could not pass up. That left sparrows, which were small but tasty, especially when cooked in a jambalaya with plenty of onion,garlic, and a generous helping of cayenne pepper. There was a certain satisfaction in knowing that what I was eating and enjoying was stalked, killed, and prepared by me.
My friend turned the horizontal screw back to where he had found it and turned the vertical screw a half turn to the right. He sighted through the scope and fired. The bullet ricocheted off the ground about ten feet beyond the target. He turned the screw a full turn to the left. The bullet slammed into the ground about ten feet before the target.
"These rifles are not very well made,” my friend said. “This is actually a Chinese copy of an excellently designed Russian assault rifle. It probably is not accurate at less than seventy-five yards." He popped out the clip and cleared the chamber. He placed the rifle on its side on the little table that acted as a shooting stand.
"Let's go set up some targets out at the hundred-yard mark."
"Where is that?" I asked. My ears had stopped buzzing, but they rang loudly now, over a distant rumbling.
"Out by the hill." He nodded with his head toward a large mound, the only protection the park goers had against assault rifles and pistols. I followed him through the smoky autumn mist. I could just hear the cars whizzing by on highway 65 about two hundred yards behind us. A lone Mocking bird bravely perched on a branch above the hill and whistled a tune, which played well with the ringing and rumbling in my ears.
When I turned too old for the BB gun, I moved up to a .22 caliber rifle.
The sparrows breathed a collective sigh of relief because now I was after bigger game, squirrels. I must have killed, skinned, and eaten hundreds of squirrels in those two years I owned that rifle. My favorite ways to fix squirrel was stewed and jambalaya. I was proud to be providing meat for my family. My mother loved squirrel meat and often called me the little provider.
My friend set up two plastic milk jugs, a plastic bleach bottle, and a life size cardboard target in the shape of a man riddled with bullet holes against the hill. Then we marched back to the stand and the waiting rifle.
"The reason I like this little gun is because the barrel and the stock are short. It's not as accurate as the original Russian design, but it allows me to move around freely in the underbrush and that's important when you're out there in the thick of it, hunting deer. The difference between a freezer filled with venison and an empty one is often that split second between sight and shot."
He picked up his rifle and pushed in the clip. I plugged up my ears. He fired five times, carefully squeezing the trigger. After he was done, he pulled out a pair of binoculars and sighted toward the targets.
"Nothing. Not even a nick." He paused and stared off at the hill with his naked eyes. "Maybe if I think like a Chinese," he mused. "After all, they read and write differently than Westerners."
What finally changed my mind about hunting was the owl.
Charles shot it when it surprised us as we crossed through the old cemetery between a rice field and a soybean field. We were already nervous enough about being in the old cemetery, and when it suddenly materialized among the gnarly moss-covered oaks with ghostly silence, we thought for sure the spirits had come to haunt us. Charles reacted first. He shot from the hip; his twelve-gauge shotgun reverberated loudly through the trees. He winged the owl, and it dropped to the ground a few feet beyond us. The bird gathered itself and stood up. It stared at us and hissed loudly. The broken wing hung useless at its side. I tried to help it, but it wouldn't let me past its sharp beak and claws.
"Let it be," Charles said throwing a small stick at the wounded bird. "It's just a stupid owl." He turned and stomped away.
I stayed behind. I knew the owl would not survive the day and would suffer miserably if I didn't do something. I stared into its dark eyes set deep in its heart-shaped face and tried to decide.
The owl did a strange thing. It moved its head back and forth several times and gave a long wheezy cry. I raised my shotgun up to my shoulder and sighted at the owl's lightly spotted chest. I squeezed the trigger slowly like I had seen the professionals do on television. The owl stood still and waited. It blinked once. When the shotgun went off, the recoil and the report nearly caused me to drop the gun. I took the owl's limp body and gently lowered it in one of the caved-in graves. I stood over the broken tomb and mused at what I had done.
For the first time in my hunting history, I had allowed an animal to communicate something to me, and sadness and regret washed over me like water.
My friend finally figured out the scope on his assault rifle. The vertical screw controlled the horizontal sighting. The horizontal screw controlled the vertical sighting.
My friend shot twenty more rounds, and toward the end, he was hitting the targets regularly. He offered the rifle to me, and I fired off five rounds. I felt a thrill in the smell of gunpowder, in the recoil of the assault rifle, in the ear-shattering report of the explosion, at the sight of the round tearing through the shoulder of a man-size target. I handed my friend his assault rifle back—the adrenalin forcing my hands to shake—and thanked him.
I hunted a few times after I killed the owl.
But each time I killed, it took me longer and longer to pull the trigger, until one cold winter morning I came face to face with a magnificent buck with shrewd old eyes that seemed to pierce my soul. I raised the brand new assault rifle I had just purchased to my shoulder and slowly squeezed the trigger. I imagined the bullet ripping into his chest until it tore through his still beating heart, and I could not squeeze anymore.
I returned the rifle the next day. I had not fired a round from it.
"Why don't you hunt?" my friend's child asked me once we returned.
I don't know. I like the smell of gunpowder. I like the thrill of the hunt. I like the taste of wild meat, especially in jambalaya.
Why don't I hunt? Because to do it right, one has to slowly squeeze the trigger and that gives me too much time to think about what I'm doing. But I didn't tell her that. I don't think she would have understood. I know her father wouldn't have.
"I don't hunt because I don't own a gun."

That made sense to her.

I wrote this many years ago, and although I have not hunted in all that time, I have nothing against someone killing an animal for food. However, I do not condone trophy killing. Not hunting is a personal preference, and I have never regretted my decision. I love fishing, though--the quiet, solitary, patient process of it—and I do so whenever I have the chance.

Prologue: The Three Indians

Prologue: The Three Indians The frozen winter wind rattled the windows of our shack. We all sat in a semi-circle around the fireplace. My...