My brother, Sean, just left. He’s lived in California for the past few years, and the last time I saw him was about 10 months ago. He was in NY this week for work, and he was able to scoot up here for a quick overnight visit. Twenty four sweet hours, just enough for dinner, a campfire, some fishing, a load of laundry, and a trip to the park. But, this post isn’t about how much I miss him and my nephews and my sister-in-law, or my sister in Hawaii. It isn’t about how sad I get when I can’t call them to talk because they’re in a different time zone and they’re sleeping. I’ll save those tears for another day- today’s blog is about something I learned while he was here, an epiphany of sorts.
Sean is an avid sportsman- he loves being outside, loves to hunt and fish. We’ve had many a debate over the years, vegetarian animal activist vs. flesh-eating carnivore. He’s always so proud to show off the latest antlers mounted in his office, or the bear skin rug he was (is) responsible for. Of course, I’m totally grossed out, and I feel sadness for the poor animal he’s currently wiping his feet upon. But in the end, we respectfully agree to disagree, knowing that we’re each entitled to our opinions. Both ends of the spectrum, staunchly represented in one family.
To give him credit, I’ve always felt he was responsible about his choices- for example, he often kills more than his family can consume, so he donates to local food shelters and pantries. We discussed his “hunting for the homeless”, and thought if it were a bumper sticker it could be misconstrued. But all joking aside, I do believe he has just as healthy a respect for mother nature as I do, even if he makes different choices.
What did I learn, you’re wondering? Well, it happened in two parts- while at my CSA pickup on Tuesday at Hall Farm, I was discussing with Daren the possibility of purchasing his meat this fall for my husband. He had a ham available right there, and I thought it would be nice to surprise my brother and serve him a ham dinner! It was already smoked, so all he had to do was heat it up (yes, I made him in charge of cooking it, but it was my utensils at my table!) These were all huge steps for me, but I was at peace because I knew where that ham came from. Claire and I had been feeding him all summer.
The next part came when Sean asked if he could show Claire how to fish off the dock. I struggled with my answer. I didn’t really want Claire to be stabbing fish with hooks, but I also wanted to trust Sean and honor his attempt to connect with his niece in the short time he had with her. So I said yes, and we promptly stopped to pick up a fishing pole- something I thought I would never do. “What would happen if she actually catches a fish?”, I asked myself. Well, then, she would learn where it came from…
The source. That’s what my epiphany was about, my realization. I may be raising Claire as a vegetarian right now, but that may not always be the case. I know I’ve touched upon this before (here), but thanks to my brother, I now have a broader understanding of how I’m going to approach it. Maybe she should learn to fish, because that will create a stronger connection to the animal as a food source. I’m not going to teach her to hunt, but I will continue to frequent the farm, so when the day comes that it all clicks for her, she will have a better understanding of where the food on her plate came from. Then she can make her choices from there.
So, Sean, I thank you. You had already gone, and it was only as I gazed at the pictures of you and Claire that I put this together. Just by being who you are, you enabled me to widen my scope a bit, and for that I am grateful. Don’t expect me to come to the “dark side” anytime soon, however my respect for your choices now runs a bit deeper after this last visit. Maybe I’ll even pick up my own fishing pole.