The picture of me looks like this: gangly legs with tall white knee socks, black and white saddle shoes, misshapen faux horn glasses way too big for my face, and a plaid, pleated skirt with a gigantic decorative safety pin, something you’d find on a Halloween costume. 

Understandably, there was always a sort of insouciance about going back to school. Unlike earthquakes, it was just something that happened every year when the hottest days of summer had run their course and my mother ditched the tube tops and started wearing normal clothes again.

Pregnancy lasts for nine months because this is about an adequate amount of time to learn every thing you need to know about childbirth, newborns, sleep “training”, every manner of disciplinary option available to you in your future parenting years that will not land you in prison, and finally, how to successfully raise an accomplished, respectable and civilized person of the world.

And then the baby is born. And you learn about all the things you didn’t know you needed to learn about: preschool waiting lists, dual immersion educational options and vaccinations—which ones, in what combinations, at what age, and how often?

Right about the time that kids learn to sleep properly—something that befuddlingly takes years—then they need to learn how to wake up early and get dressed, be breakfasted and alert enough to pack up the previous day’s completed homework to meet the school bus, usually before the sun comes up.

This whole “childhood” thing is not for the inexperienced.

Which brings me back to the first day of school. As I looked at my friends’ Instagram posts of their kiddos' “First Day of School” pictures, hashtagged #iwontcry and #summerisover, complete with wheeled backpacks and brave, toothless faces standing tall on their front porches and sidewalks, I felt a little pang of regret, envy even.

And then I leaned over and looked at my six year-old, still asleep at 8 o’clock, her eyelashes dancing with a dream, the filtered morning sun throwing patterns across her cheeks—and stole away to walk the dog in the dew heavy grass before we started our first day of school, in pajamas, over hot chocolate, first grade books already littering the kitchen table.




Image courtesy of (c) Timothy C. Mayo
Seasons have sharp edges in western Wyoming. These days, it's all about firewood and hunting, making plans to provision for winter. In our family, we have the firewood-gathering down pat. But the hunting, that's another story. Both of us grew up in the milder confines of the suburbs, a BB gun was about as rough as things got and meat was something scored from an occasional McDonald's visit, or popped out of a package on the nights my mom wasn't making her "delicious chicken"--a thawed breast covered in Mrs. Dash and broiled to a dry puck of a thing. S's mom fancied simmering her meat in various Campbell-soup bases.

Some of my dearest friends are not just vegetarians, but animal rights' vegans, which means animal products anywhere on, in, or near their persons are verboten. I admire almost to the point of envying the discipline and conviction behind such a statement and wrestle with feed lots, the unethical treatment of furred and feathered sentient beings and all the rest, but I am nowhere near as restrained to make such a choice a reality in my life. Plus, my body just does better when it can run on what it needs. And many times, that's meat.

The other night we had friends over. The kids played while the adults talked about adult things, like business time, and the funny things the kids come up with and how to respond. Things like "What does beef taste like, elk or buffalo?"

See, their kids have been raised on mostly all wild meat. But this year, they've gone halvsies on a steer from a local rancher: "Imagine, grass fed organic beef for less that $1 pound." My Venice Whole Foods-shopping friends quiver at the very idea.

More hunting talk and I learn that another friend in common has already got her bison for this year. "She went out before dawn on opening day, called Tag-and-Drag and it's done."

That friend was 37 weeks pregnant. She had her baby ten days later. The bison isn't even processed yet.

So now we're looking for someone to go in halvsies on a steer. "$1 a pound. Even with a license, I don't think we can beat that deal," S tells me. See, he's about as excited, not to mention willing, as I am to shoot a beautiful large game animal.

Which means that now all we'll have to do is order the deep freezer.