It was an early departure this morning. We woke up around 7:00AM, packed the truck quickly and then cleaned around the camp before hitting the road by 9:00AM. I was back in Toronto just after noon.
I have hunted for 15 years or so now. I have been to the cabin many other times than for hunting but coming home from hunting is very, very different from coming home after a week of camping or relaxing at the cabin. It’s remarkably difficult.
Hunting requires long periods of solitude that you spend in absolute silence while controlling your breathing, heart and movement. It’s remarkably difficult at the start of the week but by the end of the week it’s fairly natural and the entire woods come alive in ways you can’t imagine on day 1. The easiest comparison I can draw for you is to think of a time when you focussed on the night sky for a long time – the longer you look, the more stars that appear.
Imagine staring at a night sky for 9 days, getting in a car and emerging in bright daylight 3 hours later. That’s what returning to the city is like.
I am amazed every year how loud the streetcars actually are. They are impossibly loud, jarring and unsettling. This is specifically problematic as we live 15 feet from streetcar tracks that support traffic 24-hours per day.
There are a lot of people around and so many are in a hurry. The pace is one thing – the stress and curtness people have is something else. I am certain I fall into the same traps but it’s stunning to see from the outside in. And I truly mean that it is stunning – the last week has trained me to focus on everything that moves and makes a sound around me and there are so many blank stares that seem to almost run in to me that walking on the sidewalk is taxing. I know that this observation is as much about my state of mind as it has to do with what I am seeing around me.
Shaeffer is exhausted. If dogs could smile then he definitely is. He was fast asleep in his bed at one point before suddenly waking, getting out of bed to stretch and then heading right back to his bed and asleep again – a round trip from the land of Oz in 30 seconds or less.
The oddest experience comes later in the evening. Dana and I meet friends for dinner and then head to Massey Hall for a concert by Toronto-based band The Stars. Just like seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, alters your perceptions, my experience in the woods definitively has an impact on how I perceive the performance:
- The band has a peculiar habit that sees the stage covered with a few hundred roses that they tear apart before showering the stage or the audience with petals. I find this practice alarmingly disrespectful to nature, the people that grew them and the economy in general. I intellectually understand tat these flowers do not grow wild through the forests I’ve hiked but still find the performance to be analogous to an assault on nature. It’s an entirely emotional response that makes no logical sense – I am mad that they are wasting and killing flowers while the purpose of my trip was to kill animals (though not waste).
- We sat in the fourth row, stage right and were directly in front of a 30-foot wall of speakers. The theater manager leaned into our row and offered a set of ear plugs to help protect our ears. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve used ear plugs. They fit loosely at first before expanding and filling your ears to protect your hearing. By the time they’ve finished expanding I find that all sound is muffled – I am in a room of 1,000s of people and I am isolated from hearing any of them through the booming bass of the band and the combination of orange foam filters protecting one of my five senses. It’s oddly isolating – much like sitting in the forest. Although I’m sober I find it easy to imagine all the swaying people replaced by the long branches of the forests of Northern Ontario. I somehow feel the same feeling of comfortable solitude that I felt just over half a day ago.
The next few days will continue to be like this – emotional contradictions of logic that will slowly see my senses adapt to the perspective and rhythms of the world around me. And perhaps that is what I value most about hunting every year – it’s a chance to recalibrate my senses back to nature as well as a different time; a combination that enhances my own experiences and interactions with the world (and the food) around me.
This is one of the posts of 9-straight which chronicle my 2010 Ontario moose hunt which began 1 week ago today. The 9 days will be posted through this week and next weekend and will try to capture the essence of my experiences hunting for local food. The link above will reveal all the posts which have been published so far – as well as the complete series from last year. Last years series emphasized a lot of my personal struggle with hunting.
Every comment that adds to the conversation on hunting (i.e. you don’t have to agree with any of our views – but comments that are exceptionally short or ‘attack’ people aren’t eligible) will count as a ballot in our Food Matters Contest (full rules and explanation here). We hope to create dialogue over hunting and consciousness of what we eat and will listen to all with open ears and open hearts, willing to listen and share with all points of view).