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Taking Stock

Making Healing Meat & Herb Broths BY HOLLY BELLEBUONO PHOTOGRAPHS BY RIKKI SNYDER

I

’ve eaten meat, broths, and stocks all my life, but the first time I went hunting with the intention to harvest an animal to eat was a very strange experience. I’ve always been a plant girl—I schlep in the garden and work with baskets of vegetables and little green herbs; I’ve never hunted a living animal or even fished. That’s been the domain of my husband and son, two men who love to wander in the woods for days, planning and learning, and who meticulously care for their equipment and winter hunting gear. They are not avid hunters; rather, a few times a year, when the air is crisp and the maple and sycamore leaves have started falling, they take the rare opportunity to get out into the woods and hopefully bring home food. So when my 15-year-old son, Gabriel, asked me to go hunting with him, I had to think about it for a while. I’m not squeamish, but the idea of actively stalking a living animal gave me pause. Finally, I accepted his offer, and that’s how this green herbalist found herself dressed in camouflage and a bright orange hat and carrying a shotgun. I followed my son along a quiet path that crested a glacial hill, between giant boulders and beneath sprawling oaks whose lanquidly draping but massive branches reached more than 50 feet on all sides. Gabriel told me when to crouch down, and he pointed out signs of deer and taught me how to listen for their sounds. Eventually, we settled down to sit for hours, and I enjoyed the peacefulness of the forest. To be honest, I was a bit relieved when we came home empty-handed.

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