This past weekend, I travelled to my home state of New York to attend the DEC sponsored Becoming an Outdoors Woman program in the Adirondacks. The program offers dozens of classes in outdoor skills such as hunting and fishing, map and compass, how to preserve food, reading the landscape, and much, much more. There are four sessions (so you pick four classes) throughout the weekend. I took classes in Adirondack ecology, field dressing, taxidermy, and tree identification.
It was incredible to have a shared experience with other women with similar interests. I really don’t have any women in my life who share my passion for the outdoors, so that was new for me. There was a wide range of interest and experience among the participants, from novice to advanced. Amazingly, nothing felt intimidating. It was just a supportive and encouraging environment for women interested in the outdoors.
Ecology and plant identification are kind of my wheelhouse, but I took those classes because I am by no means an expert and there is always more to learn. The field dressing class was far and away my favorite. We worked on gutting and skinning a deer, rabbit, squirrel, pheasants, and fish. I found it genuinely fascinating and it helped deepen my respect for these sacred animals.
I was particularly interested in the taxidermy class for my work as a wildlife rehabilitator (i.e., for animals that don’t make it to be used for educational purposes). In the class, we taxidermied red squirrels. It was quite an interesting challenge (it was hard to sew up those little skins!) and I felt sad for the animals. They were “nuisance animals” that had been killed by DEC, which I struggled to accept because it goes against my personal beliefs. But I did my best to honor the animal and thank it for being there so I could learn this amazing skill.
Now I am relaxing in my hammock overlooking a peaceful Adirondack lake. I camped here for a couple of nights to relax and decompress from the weekend’s activities. It is perfectly quiet except for the sound of the wind in the trees and the gentle hum of a few insects to keep me company by day, and the howling and hooting of loons and owls to keep me from getting lonesome at night.
The trees are tinged with the first hint of color although the sun still feels warm and generous on my face. I hate to leave, but my body is telling me it’s time to go home and I’ve ignored it for far too long.
Autumn is nearly here. It is a time for winding down and letting go, and I am ready. Are you?