01 November, 2012

1 November 2012

On the trapline that morning Einar was pleased to find three beaver, two muskrat and in one of his deadfall sets a pine marten, confirmation that they were not wasting their time there by the river, the mission worth continuing for a few more days.  Not wanting to leave sign all along the riverbank for anyone who might happen along to see, Einar insisted that this time they carry their catch whole back to camp, and deal with it there.  Snares reset and one new deadfall cubby added near the river in the hopes of taking another marten, they returned to the sheltered spot beside the cliffs, where Liz helped him skin out the morning’s take.  Juni, carefully observing and hoping to be allowed a try at one of the muskrats, at least, kept a close eye on Will, who crawled happily from Einar to Liz as they worked, observing, Juni only narrowly preventing him from creeping right into the gut pile and snacking, as he appeared anxious to do.  Einar saw and laughed, wiped bloodied hands on his pants and scooped the little guy up in one swift movement which elicited from him a startled squawk.

“You want to try some of that stuff, do you?  Starting to realize there’s a wider world out there beyond those milkshakes you’re getting ten or twenty times a day, and some of it looks pretty edible?  Well, it is, and if your mama doesn’t object too strongly, I guess you could try a little taste of liver in a minute here.  What do you think?”

Will laughed and Liz shook her head.  “How about waiting?  Raw deer or elk liver is one thing, but do you really think it would be a good idea to give him raw muskrat or beaver liver, with the possibility of Giardia, and all…?  I’d rather not.”

“You don’t get Giardia by eating muskrat liver.  Just from drinking water the critters have been living in.  It’s not in the meat, it’s in the intestinal tract and then as a consequence, in the water where they live.”

“Alright, I understand about how it’s transmitted and I also know that you’ve eaten raw liver and meat and things for years without any bad consequence, but Snorri is such a little guy still, and a bout of diarrhea could have really dire consequences for him, right now.  He can try the liver, he’s old enough to start having little tastes of things like that, but I’d just feel a lot better if we could cook it first.  I mean, we’ve had our hands in that water, been handling the animals whose furs are soaked in it, and if some got on the liver and then…”

“Ok, ok.  You win this one.  Cooked liver only, when it comes from water-dwelling critters.  Far as I’m concerned though, the stuff is plenty safe to eat, and in fact I’d really like some, about now!”

“Well seeing as you’ve been drinking directly out of the river ever since we got down here--splashing around in there, too, and probably swallowing big gulps while you were at it--I don’t see how it could really do any additional harm for you to eat the raw liver, safe or not.  Probably do a lot less harm than not eating it, actually.  I’ll even slice it up for you.  How about that?”

“Sure!  Long as you’ll have some later, after we get a fire going.  Supposing you don’t want it raw…”

“There’s plenty with all the critters we snared, and yes, I’ll have some.  I’ll cook the rest of the livers, hearts, kidneys and maybe even a lung or two along with some meat into a supper soup, and you’ll eat at least half of it.  Won’t you?”

He laughed, dodged a playful swing of the rabbit stick and went back to his work.  “I certainly will.  I’ll eat all of it if you say so, but seems to me that wouldn’t leave too much for the rest of you.  So maybe we’ll try and split it a big more evenly, huh?”

“There will be plenty for everyone.  I’ll just keep adding meat until there’s enough.  Since we still have a fair amount of meat up at the cabin, I figured we might as well just go ahead and live off of this while we’re down here, roast rodent, giant rodent stew, things like that, and save the jerky we brought for another time, since its already dried.”

“‘Giant Rodent Stew!’ Now that sounds might tasty, I’ve got to say.  You could probably can big batches of that stuff up and sell it down below as a novelty in some of the little shops in town…yep, sell it to the tourists as a regional delicacy, or some such.  You’d have your own little business going in no time.”

“Yes, with the same problems that would attend any business we’d ever try to start, up here.  Two of those being that we’d be seriously risking our lives and freedom every time we made a delivery, and that even if we could successfully manage that every month or so…well, what use is money, to us?  Not too much to buy, up here!  Unless of course we could trade the batches of Giant Rodent Stew for other items we could use…boots, socks, Nutella…”

“Yeah, and giant wheels of cheese!  And you see, that’s where our friend Juniper comes in.  You’ll help us out with this, won’t you?”  He addressed a somewhat skeptical Juni, who was not yet entirely used to his concept of humor.  “Surely you’d be willing to haul the soup jars down on your back every month, make the trades and bring us back our stuff, right?”

It didn’t take her long to grasp the situation and formulate a response.  “Only one problem I see with this whole scheme, which is that it’s going to be pretty difficult for you to use all the boots and socks and Nutella I’ll bring you--and the wheel of cheese, wow, that’s going to be a hard one to drag up the mountain!--if I end up crushed under an avalanche or a rockslide every time I try to come back.  Because face it--you’ll probably never let me walk out of here in the first place, let alone back up on your home, your camp, wherever you’re staying, after I’ve gone down to civilization.  That just isn’t happening.  Not a second time.”

Which put quite a damper on the light and at times almost joyous atmosphere of the critter-skinning party, serious questions for all to consider…

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