Quietly the Winter Creeps In

Thursday, October 22, 2009
The pie pumpkin I bought a couple weeks ago as a Halloween decoration has turned into pumpkin pie for Dad’s birthday celebration tomorrow evening. Actually, it’s turned into a diabetic appropriate pumpkin pie since I realized – about a minute before the pie was slated to come out of the oven – that I’d forgotten to put any sugar in the pie except for a pinch in the crust. While upsetting at the initial time of realization, after picking at teeny bits of the pie filling along the crust, it became quite clear that the pie would be fine without sugar as long as it’s topped with lots and lots of Cool Whip! In a waste not, want not move, I roasted the pumpkin’s seed with some butter, cinnamon sugar and cayenne pepper. I’d grown quite fond of the little pumpkin and will probably have to find a new one for the counter, but I did find it rather amusing when I looked at the counter and saw a pumpkin pie and a bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds: the little pumpkin recomposed!

What with the pumpkin items and the batch of apple muffins baked yesterday, the Shack is smelling like autumn. Outside the Shack, things aren’t quite so sure what season it is. Yesterday, another couple inches of snow fell, once again covering the golden aspen leaves and giving me a second dose of winter driving when I headed to work this morning. Andy headed out to pull the first co-worker out of the ditch yesterday. As far as I know, the car’s still there; they didn’t manage to get it out.

Ready or not, winter breathing down our necks and it’s looking as if it’s going to be a very long winter indeed. Still, before the snow flies in earnest, there are some preparations to be made for autumn’s last stand: deer season. While men on my mother’s side of the family hunt, my father decidedly did not, making this, despite my 24 autumns in northern Minnesota, my first deer season.

I always knew deer hunting was largely tedious, I just didn’t realize the tedium begins months before the season actually opens. For the last month, whenever he has a day off, Andy has been out scouting deer trails while simultaneously hunting grouse, with minimal success on both accounts as of late. It’s not especially easy to find deer where, according to a local, “there haven’t been deer since 1971.” Our recent run-ins with moose might help explain that. Since deer have the ability to transport a brain worm that’s deadly to moose, deer and moose don’t co-exist terribly well.

For a long time, the best deer spot we’d found was in the woods behind my childhood home close to Lake Superior, but finally on Tuesday we found another spot a little closer to our neck of the woods that was up to Andy’s standards. In a true test of our relationship, we carried bits of Andy’s older deer stand (not the new one we put together in the cold shop a week or so ago) through a river bed and up the steep hill side to the perfect birch tree from which to watch the clearing crisscrossed with deer trails in the valley at the hill’s other side. I’m an apprehensive participant of manual labor on a good day, especially anything involving bushwhacking, but the whole process went so smoothly that the idea of deer hunting redeemed itself after all the “deer stand searching” in the weeks before.

We’ll see what deer season brings in actuality. If nothing else, the deer stand’s a lovely spot to watch the world go by and the ever-bold gray jays play. Just don’t plan on eating lunch in the stand; gray jays are notorious camp robbers.

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