Woodchuck, also known as groundhog, should be handled in accordance with the general rules for game in the field. The blood should be drained, and the entrails removed and the body cavity wiped clean. When hung for 48 hours, they are ready to the skinned and cooked.
Woodchuck meat is dark, but mild flavored and tender. It does not require soaking; however, many people like to soak it overnight in salt water. If the woodchuck is caught just before he begins his winter sleep, there is an insulating fat layer under the skin. Remove excess fat. remove 7 to 9 "kernels" (scent glands) in the small of the back and under the forearms. Parboil the meat of older animals; cook by recipes calling for chicken or rabbit.
Clean game and remove all the fat. Cut into pieces, rub with salt and pepper and roll in flour. Cook in hot fat until brown. Add two cups of water, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until tender
Irony today. Longer days, less pain, the possibility of a cancer free future. A beautiful winter storm - fluffy flakes, and dear Sarah has had her baby girl in the midst of it; the promise of small and delightful pleasures, cuddly babies, and of spring to come in the shape of the Stokes Seeds catalogue.
However, I am too depressed to even sprout one tear and cry. I am lethargic, withdrawn, unpleasant in my skin. I sleep hours on end. My bones hurt, in jagged spurts. I have turned the shade of grey all cancer patients turn. Our lips are whitish, we have fuzzy heads, we look like zombies with no hair, with hollowed out necks and cheeks.
But the news is good. I am recovering. Fantastic!!!!
And so it often goes when the cognizant mind receives signals to slow down, or the pressure comes off, or respite is provided after a long drawn out period of pain, (like getting a nasty cold the day after you start your 3 week vacation), ironically, the body goes into a state of shock and deflates, withdraws. Hey, good news! Fantastic! Then descent, depression, the physical manifestation of the mental or inner turmoil written on the body. Why? What is this course we run on? Maybe it is due to the fact that the battle which consumes us at our every waking hour is abating, allowing for real feeling to bubble up? Maybe it is fear - we are afraid of whether we can handle the life we had before. What then? Fear of getting it back, fear perhaps of not wanting it. Will I go insane in that life?
And fear of the next steps.
When we talk of next steps, Michael and I cavalierly talk surgery, radiation. But there is more there, deeper currents which must be addressed in order to move between the worlds of recovery and pain. The psychiatrist who walked me through the last massive depression- induced changes in my life, re-engaged to assist again. Kate the non-joiner is reluctantly contemplating Dr. Buckman’s group therapy, about finding normal again. Other people must feel this, do this, know this? I know we need to get Naomi to Gilda’s Club so she can see her hostility towards me, the cancer, the world - is all part of a normal cycle.
I can never seriously recall if the ground hog's shadow is a good or bad thing. It seems so simple, but I forget it every year. I just want spring. And warm. And hair. And a tinge of colour in the skin. And to not be afraid I will be caught and fricasseed.