We’re always grateful for our lunches from home at Village Day, but every now and then we get the chance to try a less exotic meal from the land that we’re playing on, like acorn pancakes, fried cattail, or fir tips. This past week we had an exciting, masked visitor who taught us both about our bodies and also about a new and surprisingly tasty food!
One of our staff came across a raccoon who had just been hit by a car last week, so they helped her transition and brought her to Village Day. After this sad end to her life, we sang to her to thank her for her sacrifice while she thawed out over the wood stove. Initially some of us were a little scared of her, but after a while we all got to pet her fur and talk to her, and we felt more comfortable. The staff explained how we would skin her, and this also raised some eyebrows. Again, some of us weren’t sure we wanted to watch this, (and of course we were totally free to go play other games if we wished) but we took it very slow and everyone stayed totally present through the whole process. We got to see all the rich fat that the raccoon had saved up for the long winter, and once she was skinned we talked a lot about how much she looked like us.
Some people thought it was pretty gross, right up until we got to the tendons. If you haven’t seen tendons up close, they have a stunning, iridescent sheen. Looking at these links between our muscles and bones and seeing them reflect all the colors of the rainbow, it’s impossible not to be struck by the beauty of our bodies. As we separated the legs, we got to look at the ball and socket joints in the hips, and practiced moving our own legs and feeling our hip joints move. There was still some skepticism about whether this dead raccoon would become anything that we’d want to eat, but the staff did a reasonable job processing out the meat, and everyone agreed that it looked more like food. After thoroughly washing our hands in warm soapy water, we left the raccoon at a full rolling boil with carrots, garlic, and shiitakes while we played games through the afternoon. When it came time for closing circle, there had been a magical transformation, and the somewhat sad-looking piece of roadkill had become a stew that everyone agreed was quite delicious.
In our busy society, the natural world can often become just a wallpaper that we drive past on our way to something “important”. This mindset, which all of us learn as a default, prevents us from fully understanding the myriad layers of natural, grounded reality which exist around us all the time. Processing and eating this raccoon is the sort of experience that invites us deeper into the world we live in. For every one us who were present for this, neither raccoons nor roadkill nor our own hips will ever be the same. We’ll understand that the animals we drive by have bodies which are basically identical to our own.
This blossoming awareness of our interconnectedness to the cycles upon which we all depend is the foundation upon which our species can build a healthier and more balanced way of being; with the natural world, with one another, and with ourselves.