The Birds and the Bees

Berlin Travel Blog

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There is a fundamental difference between the warmth in Wisconsin and the warmth in Ireland.  Sitting in my front yard back home, the sun is enveloping, soft like cotton, all encompassing.  Ireland almost never has the same due to the permanent undertones of cold, set by a persistent fresh breeze, each breath full of icy fingers prickling at your skin and causing Goosebumps.  Here there is a breeze but it is inviting, simply providing a slight contrast that highlights pleasantly the current warmth.

Why did I enjoy coming home so much?  First, the family, which I suppose most people can relate to, and those who can’t are more unlucky than any broke person.  These are my parents and siblings; sometimes I just feel the need to be around them. The 2nd reason is my 2nd family: the flora and fauna of home.  There’s just nothing like being surrounded by the environment one grows up in if you haven’t experienced it in a while.  Irish countryside always seemed dead to me in a way; here everything is amplified: the sounds, the animals you see, live with, even eat.  Right now I can hear multitudes of birds chirping, and the ever present WooOOO Hoooo,  Hoo Hoo of the mourning Dove, instantly recognizable and nostalgic.  Bugs fly all around, buzzing their various self important songs, I can’t take 2 steps in the backyard without frogs hopping out of foots way, squirrels and rabbits run from bush to bush, and I’ve already seen a deer and pheasant since I’ve arrived, the two true staples of Wisconsin hunting.

And of course, the catfish, I’ve seen plenty of those!  They are plentiful in the Fox River and Dad’s been fishing them for longer than I’ve been alive on the shore that constitutes the end of our backyard.  Subsequently I’ve eaten scores of them growing up, more than I could possibly guess, but it would definitely be in the thousands, not hundreds.  Yesterday he skinned three or four for dinner at the fish cleaning tree, the kids all stood gathered around watching, some for the curiosity and gruesomeness (my brothers and friends) and me to learn how to properly fillet fish for my own culinary know how.  As soon as Dad runs the knife over the sharpener in his super quick whish whish whish manner the cat’s come running from all over the year, fully aware what that sound means and that good eating of fish innards are on the way. 

So with his audience of children and cats Dad expertly slices the fish, breaking the heads off with his bare hands with a giant bone snapping “crack!” and skimming the knife smoothly through the flesh.  The compliments to the fish were fried whole baby onions, zucchini rings and beets, all of which came from the front yard rather than the back.  Dads the fisher but moms the ultimate gardener, and with just a few yards of soil we’ve rarely had to ever buy vegetables as the woman can grow anything.  Despite the fact the whole meal was fried, there’s something incredibly healthy feeling about pulling beets out of the ground at 3 and forking them into your face at 8.  The taste, obviously, cannot be compared to grocery store food, but it goes beyond that, the fundamental Quality comes through; it’s like eating a 3D beet after months of flat, 2 dimensional vegetables.

I think people don’t realize the literal meaning of “coming from the earth”, but when examined the statement is exactly spot on.  All the cells in my body, they need proteins to grow, my brain amino acids and my muscles protein.  Where did these come from?  From this plot of land.  My mother ate from this garden when pregnant with me, and I continued for 18 years after.  The same reducible elements I carry around are directly related to this soil, and this water, I am an extension and a temporary use of these.  If I were to be buried here they would go back to the same soil with no hesitation.  I eat what comes from this land; I drink from the same, it is my home in a way suburban kids whose parents move around a lot will never know “home”


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