I’m not joking when I say that Maple and I give skulls as gifts. Both myself and Maple make a really honest effort to use every part of an animal that comes to us. (I was very proud that, while butchering Caribou, Mina took some sinew home to sew/weave with. One of the many reasons I love her.)
In one of my fondest early childhood memories I remember taking beach walks with my mother and siblings. We each had a treasure bag with our nicknames cross-stitched on them. We would fill our bags with bones, sticks, driftwood, rocks, sea glass etc. From an early age I was taught that these were treasures and that philosophy still largely defines how I look at the gifts that nature offers humans – you will find treasures, if you’re willing to look.
Currently Maple and myself lack a completely finished Trapshed. (Which is, by the by, a blog post about 3 months in the making. We started the trap shed about 4 months ago, got it half built, went to Kentucky, came back to fallen snow, and have been slowly, painfully trying to finish the shed in the ensuing three months. Building at -20 is very difficult.) This means that all animal processing takes place inside the Garagehome. Maple and myself processed five skulls on the top of our stove as sort of an experiment. We didn’t know how bad it would be exactly, but we really wanted to give some of the skulls away as Solstice gifts (cue the ‘creeeeeepy people’ music) and thought we’d give it a try with just five skulls (one beaver, two lynx, one marten, one ermine.) The beaver and ermine were given to us but the others were ours.
Well. It was much, much worse than I thought it would be. I can say with authority that these five skulls are the only five skulls that will ever be processed in the home. The process of cleaning meat off a skull involves hours of boiling borderline-rotten meat off a skull (which smells WRETCHED) and then, just when you can breathe again, one gets to boil down a skull again for several more hours. WRETCHED.
However, the skulls were pretty cool, once most of the meat was off them. Sweet Maple then spent several nights with a head lamp on, laboring over the skulls with a toothbrush, some wire and tweezers. Maple fortunately is in a happy place of his (figuring out how things are put together) with that sort of work. This is a very good thing because you lost me at ‘toothbrush.’
Nature is fascinating, and while I definitely didn’t enjoy the process of the skulls boiling down, the end result is pretty amazing. Even the littlest skulls look pretty primeval.
Spoiler: If skulls really freak you out, stop reading now, because it’s all skulls from here on out. Well, except for a really sweet photo of Maple. If it were a photo in an art show I would caption it, “Just Your Average Night at Home by the Solstice Tree”
Cheers and Love,
Maple and Me