April 7th, 2008

Oranges Are For Christmas
By James Castwell

Right, oranges used to be one of the gifts I would find in my stocking on Christmas morning. Seasonal. They were a real treat. Now you can buy them all year long. Is that a bad thing? Most likely not but it does take the specialness from them. Today they are just oranges. No longer only available once a year.

Fall was the time for game. No, not football, real game. Things you shot. Our family was not into the deer hunting angle but small game, ducks, rabbits and pheasants were on the menu often. Including wild mushrooms when we got lucky. I loved the various ways mom could cook, especially ducks and pheasant. It was a real treat not just food for a meal. They were a seasonal delight, only possible at that season. I think the various foods available was one of the things that made seasons seem so outstanding. Each season had its rewards, usually in some form of food that was now destined for our table.

In my early years I would bring home a few trout and in the summers some walleye and bluegills from the lake where we stayed. Again,seasonal. We caught them in the summer and ate them in the summer.

Later on we moved to Montana and with an old stone homestead had two freezers in the dirt floored basement. Trust me, we used them well. We used them because the food we got often came in larger packages; beef, deer, moose and elk for instance. Toss in a generous bag limit of birds and we kept them going.

But I had learned many years earlier that fish frozen for very long just doesn't make it. The delicate taste gets frozen out of them. So, any fish we took home we ate within a day or so. There was a private stocked lake near us where we had permission to take any we wanted for food whenever. Cutthroat trout. You bet, a bit of butter and herb and you have a wonderful meal.

Sometimes a fish from the other rivers of the area would make it home, but not often actually. We both liked fly fishing but trying to drag a dead fish around for any length of time became a nuisance. So, before it was fashionable, we tossed most everything back.

Every so often I read where someone will not take any fish for themselves but will bring home a limit for some folks in their neighborhood. Some times kind of poor folks, or just maybe not able to get out any more, or just like the taste of fish. We each have our own way of doing things in that respect and I have mine. You may not agree and I'm not asking you to. Just putting it out as to where I stand on some things.

I don't do that, but have had it done for me. I have had a couple of times a fish given to me and enjoyed it greatly. I was also honored that they would do such a thing. But I can not reciprocate. I try hard to eat foods yet that are in season so to speak, but as I stated above, it's pretty hard to figure the seasons anymore. For some reason I just don't think it's right for me to take game to another person. The regulation of our rejoices is gauged on a number of things, involvement being only one of many considered. Is this being stingy on my part, hoggish; maybe.

There seems to be several elusive thoughts running in my mind as I write this, but if I write any of them you will likely be even more insulted than you are now. Somewhere I hope there is at least one of you who feels our game and resources are too special and valuable and yes, seasonal, to be only taken for others, and not fully appreciated by those who are able or willing to invest the time, expense and effort required.

I'm pretty sure I have offended those of you who kill game for others. That was not my purpose. When there is a surplus of any kind of game I think it is a fine thing to help others in any way possible and even if it is just as a treat for the taste-buds for them. My thoughts were from areas of well managed resources where bag limits, size limits, slot limits, C and R and all other sorts of environmental stewardship controls were in place. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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