My Deer Friends

Last weekend I had the pleasure of taking part in my uncle’s long-planned and much-anticipated venison feast. Having scored two large deer late in the Fall, he had a bounty to share. So he invited us all, friends and family, to share his good fortune and his passion (both for hunting and for cooking), and to taste a bit of the good life.

Artwork by M.P.W.

The menu was outrageous, with venison shepherd’s pie, venison sausage and peppers, a venison roast, venison chili, venison jerky, even venison egg rolls! But the crowning achievement of the night was the venison tenderloin that was saved until last. As we all stood around the fire pit, Pat grilled up thin slices of venison in the style of a beefsteak and then dipped them in a bath of warm butter and garlic. It is exactly as delicious and decadent as it sounds. Bathed in the glow of the fire, with the smell of wood smoke and cigars and the sound of laughter hanging in the cool Spring air, I felt profoundly lucky and happy to be alive. 

Last night I had the pleasure of going to see a concert, one that showcased 5 different bands whose careers are now beginning their third decades, at the Bell House in Gowanus. The stage was a revolving door of different acts, often sharing and trading members, all of them friends who came together to support each other. Ida, fronted by a husband and wife duo, was mellow and sweet. Haunting harmonies and poignant lyrics. M Shanghai String Band packed the stage with all sorts of instruments – standing bass, banjo, two violins, harmonica, saw and spoons! – and with energy, sheer electricity. Babe the Blue Ox, whose release party this whole thing was, rocked the house with two drummers, a guitar and larger than life female bassist. The night passed from slowcore, to Americana, to indie rock, but with no break in the good vibes, no loss of the crowd’s enthusiasm for each new group. It was so clear to me that these people truly enjoyed every moment that they were performing, and I couldn’t help but feel their joy.

Watching Babe the Blue Ox play through their first new album in 15 years, I was struck by the same sort of profound feeling I had leaving the venison dinner. Perhaps it had something to do with the lead singer’s uncanny resemblance to Pat, but more likely it was the trait that they have in common: pursuing the things that they love throughout their lives. And beyond that, they recognize that the best part of having a hobby or a talent is to share it with others, to bring it to full fruition.

The venison dinner would not have been the same without Pat opening his house to friends and family, to showcase his successful hunt and keen abilities in the kitchen. The show was made even better because it was clear that the bands were there to play alongside each other and to invite us all to feel that support and exuberance with them.

It’s so true of all things in life: they are made better, more fulfilling, by joining with others to experience them. So eat! Drink! Run, jump, hunt, sing, play, cultivate your talents! And do so with an openness to celebrate each moment with others.

Artwork by K.E.H.

Check out some of last night’s acts!


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