We marked the last day of regular firearms deer season with a dinner of fresh venison and grouse. The glass door had gotten the grouse, so no license was required there. Cut very thin, lightly breaded and fried, both meats were a hit with the five-year old.
Bow season continues and muzzle loader opens this weekend, but even though he’ll likely bring home one more deer, I should get to see a bit more of my orange-clad partner now.
We made the hour+ trip to town together one day last week, and our conversation was like one from a sitcom. Both in our own separate worlds, he was focused on the hunt and I was focused on the birth. I later apologized for my one-track mind, and he laughed. “Me too,” he said sheepishly.
In year’s past, his dedication to hunting season has caused many an argument. My birthday nearly always coincides with opening weekend, and needless to say, it has never been first priority. This is also the third time I’ve been pregnant during hunting season. The first go-round at 7 months pregnant, I walked the woods with him, picking mushrooms, collecting birch bark and whatever other treasures the forest floor offered me. I was still new to The Angle then, and I wanted to know his world.
Last year, early in a pregnancy that would ultimately miscarry, I was emotional and exhausted at his many long weekends away on the island while I did both the parenting and ran the delivery route. But he had done months of pre-season work for his hunt, and it paid off with a beautiful buck that fed us for a long time, won a local Angle contest and now graces the wall of the family room with his own European mount handiwork.
This year, I vowed to give him whatever space he needed, argument free. He is more than generous when I need to escape to the city for good food and a bit of culture. As it worked out, his time hunting the islands was cut short when we had to pull the boat early due to cold weather and ice. Hunting the mainland has never been his thing, but he still went out as often as he could. He’d show me on the map the trails he’d walked, where the beaver ponds are, the bedrock clearings and any other points of interest. There were more wolf tracks than deer tracks, but still he walked, even as the temperature dipped to nearly zero some mornings.
It felt good to love him through it, instead of resenting his time away as I have in the past.
In my homebody world, the nesting phase has hit full-bore. I’ve been tearing apart my house corner by corner, cleaning, purging and organizing. It feels amazing, but at 8½ months pregnant at age 43, it’s also exhausting. I’ve overdone it several times and have had to recoup for a full day or more, all the while wondering why this hormonal drive doesn’t hit earlier on in pregnancy when a woman isn’t yet carrying all the baby weight and when bending and lifting aren’t such a bear.
I’m grateful, however, that both the hunting and the nesting are happening during The Angle’s downtime. The tourism off-season lasts until Christmas and I treasure these few quiet months. The world turns slower somehow, and we can live more deliberately, more on purpose. That said, the parcel delivery business will take off right after Thanksgiving. In years past we’ve glued a Santa hat to the snowmobile helmet he uses while delivering so many of the area Christmas presents out to the islands.
With the early snow in October, I was in the Christmas spirit even before Halloween, which would normally make me cringe. There’s also something about the timing of the baby – he’s due the first part of December – that makes me want to get everything, even the Christmas prep, taken care of.
I want to be intentional with my one-track mind as our family dynamic changes, as our routines and a new normal get established. I want to feel ready and not regret letting chores wait until after the birth. I want to focus on my Iris and our last few weeks of her being my only child.
“We have a baby coming in a few weeks,” I heard him tell a friend over the phone. “So, I haven’t been out checking the ice much yet this year.” The birth is on his mind too, of course, despite the constant hunter’s orange. He is tender and loving in his caretaking of me. And, as it has always been, there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t tell me I’m beautiful. When I am lamenting my size, he smiles and says something to the effect of, “you are very pregnant and more beautiful to me than ever.”
When our son arrives – how odd that feels … “our son” – I’m sure the one-trackedness will be put to good use for the health of the baby and the love and inclusion of our Iris and her four older sisters.
We’re excited, almost ready and more in love with this little life than ever.
(Published in the November 20th issue of the Warroad Pioneer)