my first chapter of rural life: learning the “H” word

Chris & I at Kiger Canyon with the rat dog, Mo.
Chris’ idea of a 4-star resort: a wall tent.
I first arrived in Roseburg for a weekend stay with three suitcases, high heels and my “rat” dog. It was just as I imagined: gorgeous fields, sweeping vineyards, towering oak trees, and crisp rivers. I then pulled up to my four-star double-wide, equip with cows, guns and a selection of hanging antlers.

Within a few hours I found out that stilettos are not the proper choice for muddy grass, that perfume does attract bugs, and that I might need a new cell phone plan because it seems everywhere I go, I get one bar.
Oh, what people do when they are in love. Yes, I met the man of my dreams—plaid, suspenders and all—and journeyed down to the country. It seems I am living the real Green Acres.

After marrying my logger husband, I made the official move to Roseburg. My husband was constantly asked, “How’s the city girl doing?” His co-workers and buddies thrived for a good laugh on my quest to find the retail stores, discovering it is normal to carry a rifle in your pick-up truck, and how I learned that the fall is not for fashion week—but hunting season.

I’d only been in Roseburg for five months, and that celebrated “H” word started sputtering off everyone’s lips. No, not “holiday”, but “hunting”. Hunting is comparative to Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale— you wait all year for it, you compare with friends and strangers what you found, and you are very particular about who you go with. That being said, I couldn’t believe my husband wanted me to go hunting at Steens Mountain with him to kick off the “holiday” season. I sure had a lot to prove, therefore I had to go.

The festivities began with s’mores, hot chocolate and snow. However, it was fifteen degrees and I was in a tent. I’ve gone camping a lot before, but this was different. We were in almost complete solitude, and I even made my husband park us on an actual campground. I figured I should be near people in case some animal attacked.

The first two nights were cozy with a crackling fire, fresh snow, and warm comfort food.  During the day I walked around camp with my UGG boots, fur covered parka, and rat dog. I didn’t even fit in hunting.  I suppose next year I’ll research my husband’s Cabela’s catalogue for some girly camo attire.

After the jug of Carlo Rossi ran out and I finished my book, I went from dreading the thought of my husband killing something to begging he would kill something.  Eventually, he said I had “passed the test” and we could go home.

Ahh, home, and I did it. I completed the long, cold week of hunting.I just couldn’t wait to get back to town, but did feel bad my husband didn’t kill anything.

He then chuckled and said not to worry, “We’ll go Elk hunting here in a few weeks.”
“What?” “There is Elk hunting, too?” Sigh.

It seems I still have a lot to learn about how the holidays are spent down here. 

elk ragu

If you are married to a hunter, you too, have had to figure out not only how to eat elk, but how to cook it.

Once fond of elk meat, pregnancy turned me somewhat against it. Only when you can really smell or taste the gaminess. I have found a few ways around it considering it is a good, lean meat and is filling up our freezer.

Elk Ragu

 

1 package ground elk
1 package pasta noodles (Rotini or Penne)
1 jar flavored marinara sauce
Basil
Parmesan
Garlic
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Butter
1. Boil noodles in heavy salt water (enough where the water tastes salty) & olive oil
2. Heat olive oil & garlic in deep saute pan on medium high
3. Add meat to the saute pan & cook thoroughly
4. Add plenty of basil, more garlic, salt & pepper (to taste) to meat
5. Add marinara sauce to pan along with another tablespoon of olive oil
6. Add 1/2-1 cup of water from your cooked pasta (adds creaminess to sauce)
6. Drain pasta & add to simmering meat sauce
7. Mix pasta & sauce while adding 2-3 cups Parmesan (again, to liking but the more the better)
8. Remove from heat & add 1-2 tablespoons of butter
9. Bowl it up, add more Parmesan and Basil to top and get a fork!

 

the man store

I never knew there was such a thing as a man store until I started dating Chris. The only mail he received besides bills were Cabela’s catalogs.
Springfield, a city about an hour north from us, just opened a Cabela’s. The excitement was fierce here in Oregon about Cabela’s. Men who may not even hunt or fish were still thrilled about the Cabela’s simply because it defines “man.”
And this was all proven when my husband and I finally made the trip up north yesterday. I got to go to my stores and he got to go to Cabela’s – and it seems that is how any wife got her husband out to shop that day.
We walked inside and it was intoxicating how much this store defined my husband. The air was filled with testosterone. Stuffed deer and elk, moose heads, fishing poles, guns, bows and rows and rows of everything camo and plaid.
The store was packed and after awhile, I started seeing that most of the people were in the same boat as me. The women were toting around their Target and Macy’s bags, carrying their kids, sticking their hips out with that look in their eye that says, “Please, get me out of here,” or “No, we do not need another gun.”
In my case, I was brought into the Gun Library to be reminded that only about a week before my husband met me, he was ready to buy the next gun for his collection. He showed me the price tag: $1,300. “It’s so beautiful,” he whined. “Umm, I’m pretty sure I’m more beautiful, and I give you sex.”
Then again I was noticing all the families in a different light. These poor men were picking up these fishing poles and guns and remembering the “good ol’ days” when they could a) afford it and b) have time to do it. Their kids are screaming and wives are going, “Come on! We have soccer practice!”
“Ahh, remember when you used to go fishing?” I said to my husband. “Ya, it was nice,” he chuckled back.
For many men, the store is a dream world; a past lifetime.

“Maybe when you retire babe,” I laughed.