The government has sent me a synopsis of the 2014 hunting regulations.
I have no idea why.
I have never been a hunter; I donâ€™t go in for that namby pamby stuff.
Iâ€™m a gardener.
Whatâ€™s that, you say?
Iâ€™ve got it backwards?
The gardeners are the wusses and the hunters are the tough guys?
If thatâ€™s what you think, then youâ€™ve never been exposed to some real get-down-and-dirty gardening â€“ the kind of gardening where you get to kill things that are way more defenceless than a mindless grouse or some unsuspecting deer.
Forget lugging a couple dozen beer into the woods to tide you through hours of sitting up high in a blind, hoping that the moose you want to strap to the hood of your car doesnâ€™t sniff the alcohol before you fall out of the tree.
Gardeners make their kills right in their own backyards â€“ sometimes thousands of them in a single day. And whenever they feel like it, they wander over to the kitchen for a cold one â€“ maybe a beer, maybe a cider, maybe a chilled white wine, or a deep-bodied red with a heady nose? Or heck, how about a good olâ€™ bloody Caesar?
Thereâ€™s no need to figure out weeks in advance what kind of booze youâ€™re going to be lugging through the thickets. Itâ€™s in the fridge.
And the choices for hunters tend to take about as much imagination asâ€¦ wellâ€¦ as much as they can muster: regular beer, or light (for those who donâ€™t mind a bit of gentle ribbing from their buddies). Maybe a bottle of rye for the real adventuresome types.
Then thereâ€™s the matter of seasons.
Hunters sit around getting fat while they wait for their opportunity to rain bullets a few weeks at a time on bears or squirrels or geese or whatever else suits their relatively limited taste for destruction.
Gardeners kill practically everything in reach. Anything that shows up in â€œthe wrong placeâ€ falls to the ice-veined gardener.
Unlike the forestâ€™s offerings, everything is fair game in the garden. Even the things gardeners spend all year nurturing get their lives virtually ripped from them: sometimes thrown into a pot of boiling water before they have a chance to realize theyâ€™re dead; sometimes cut off and stuck in jugs of water and placed like trophies on mantles, window shelves, even dining room tables â€“ anywhere that â€œneeds some prettying up.â€
Antlers on a wall in the den?
Hey! And how old are your kids before you feel itâ€™s safe to take them into the woods and teach them how to kill stuff? Fourteen? Twelve? Ten?
We gardeners sic our youngâ€™uns after prey practically before theyâ€™re out of their diapers.
We wonâ€™t get into the huntersâ€™ penchant for the â€œclean kill,â€ whether their weapon of choice is a shotgun or a high-powered rifle.
Gardeners donâ€™t even know what â€œcleanâ€ means â€“ except when theyâ€™re cleaning their kill, of course: the one thing we all have in common.
If you tried to kill a deer with the kind of implements of destruction gardeners use to attack their prey, theyâ€™d throw you in jail for life. Have you ever taken a close look at a dandelion puller?
And then thereâ€™s the limited range of intelligence needed to be a hunterâ€™s child. The hunter has to teach his kids the difference between a buck and a doe. Big deal.
By the time I was six I knew the difference between a carrot seedling and a sprig of grass.
The baby carrots are the lucky ones â€“ they just get â€œthinned.â€