The afternoon had been spent making the first batch of hot N' spicy zucchini relish for the summer. It had been a warm day, thankfully not one of those devastatingly draining hot days where you could just strip off everything and stand under a cold shower. Instead it was a kinda, just right, not too hot, summer day. For me though, working the kitchen, with the sun setting in the western window, it was a different story. I was now hot. It had got to that time when you need to take a break, sit under a fan with a cool drink and chill. But, I had vegetables to chop and a tortilla cooking on the stove. Vegetables don't cook themselves you know … Pesky little buggers.
It's a little early in the season to be cooking a glut of zucchini, I mean the zucchini in my garden is growing and I'll admit they're rather small, not even a feeds worth. But here I am sweating over a hot stove … it's all Jack's fault. He's gone veg growing mad this year (he officially has veg fever). Months ago he built a poly tunnel. Not one that comes as a kit that you merely assemble … oh no that's not good enough for Mr. Jack! He used this clever (and cheap) method using poly tubes, timber and plastic, and the result is the bee's knees. Why? Because it puts him months in advance with veg productivity (not that we're at all competitive about growing veg). It's a cool climate up here in the central highlands, as a result we have a short summer growing season. The beauty of a poly tunnel is that it harnesses whatever sunlight there is, and multiplies it tenfold making those sensitive summer veg happy little beasts. As a result he gets mega veg, and it's all ready well and truly before my veg, which is at the mercy of the elements. Hence the esky full of zucchini left on my door step a day earlier … by Jack. And when the zucchini is in glut, I make relish (which just happens to be one of Jack's favourites). We have a deal, he gives me excess zucchini and I give him jars of relish in return. But enough about relish, this story is about hunting.
I'd already taken the rifle out in the morning and bagged a rabbit. I have a quota of 50 rabbits to shoot for an event I'm cooking for, on Australia Day. One rabbit a day won't cut it. There's no time to muck around here, I need more productivity, more bunnies in the freezer. And even though it was hot, I knew I needed to go out in the evening and bolster the numbers up. These rabbits won't shoot, skin and gut themselves.
I messaged Jack, who's much more handy with the rifle, and we tee'd up a 7pm rendezvous. "I'll try not to be too late" I said to Kate in passing as I left the sweet lady on the sofa. With a parting kiss I was gone. Short hunts are rarely the case. Honestly, I have the intention of making a hunt a quick process, however the reality is, once I'm out in the fields I get lost in the moment, the fields of gold, the wind in the eucalyptus, the scurry of enticing rabbits and the chorus of birds singing their goodnight dusk ballads. It's not the bloodlust of being on the kill, it's more about being out of the physical house, instead I'm out in the true house where I feel at home.
This night though, I was clumsy. Not in regards to gun safety, more so that it just wasn't my night, I just felt clumsy. You know those days when things just don't work out? You pour out of date milk onto your cereal, get a parking fine, spill a coffee and then miss an important appointment. This was my evening. (ps. I don't eat cereal) I even noticed how annoying I walked over the rough ground beneath me, my footsteps were clumsy, this annoys me to no end. I just wasn't feeling 100%. I blame my diminished focus on the disturbed sleep I've been having of late. I wake up worrying about where we'll live in the future, how we'll secure a home for our family of girls and how will we afford this bill or that rent.
I liked being out there, but it was Jack who did all the work. He was calm and focused. He's a man of efficiency. He installed a bi-pod mounted on the stock of his rifle that gives 80% accuracy. When he wants a rabbit shot cleanly in the head, he normally gets it. Me on the other hand, I'm determined to keep shooting without the aid of a bi-pod, as I figure I may not always have one, or I may be using someone else's rifle and I want to still be able to nail the shot. So on this night my clumsy stubbornness resulted in 2 rabbits while Jack easily shot 10 or so.
As the light diminished and the sun had sunk completely, we called it a day. The colour of the setting sky and the golden glow on the cured fields of grain warmed my heart. It's such a beautiful place at times. And even though I'd been lacklustre in my ability I was happy for Jack. It was his night tonight.