You Cook a Fine Rabbit, Pilgrim

A Story from Christia and my 1982 trip to Alaska with Moon

Powwow two convened as we headed north toward Dawson Creek, Christia sitting between us on the front seat. Moon counted and recounted the remaining money for what seemed like the hundredth time, hoping somehow, he’d miscounted.

“Shane, get the map and try to add up the distance from here to Soldotna. We don’t have any more money for food.”

Christia and I exchanged glances. Verbalizing the obvious somehow penetrated the remaining vestiges of my defenses and awakened me to the sobering reality of our situation.

“I hate to ask, but do ya’ll happen to have any money?”

“Yeah, I have sixty dollars and some change.”

Christia hesitated, “I have twenty dollars.”

“Well, we’re gonna’ problee’ need every bit of it.”

We handed over our money. He stuffed it in the cash drawer in his front pocket.

“We’ll need to shoot rabbits the rest of the way in order to have something to eat.”

Our choices were: commence a three to four day fast, shoot rabbits and eat them raw, or stop and build a fire in order to roast them. The silver lining of sorts, no more salami and cheese sandwiches and rest! Moon did mention cooking the rabbits on the engine’s manifold. For me, our situation was now entering the terrain of the familiar high adventures I’d experienced with Moon from my youth. Christia couldn’t hide her obvious disgust.

Late that afternoon, scores of mottled brown and white snowshoe hares emerged from the firs to nibble the fresh green shoots along the ride-of-way.

“Put a ‘cot-trege' in the barrel. Open the door quietly, don’t shut it.”

Standing beside the truck, I aimed the single shot .22 and scored.

“Go get ’em.”

I laid him on the floorboard.

“Let’s drive a little further and pick out another one.”

Later that evening we chose a nice pull-off somewhere south of Fort Nelson, British Columbia. Our providential money and food crisis slowing us down, the world reestablished equilibrium. I gathered fallen limbs and started a fire while Moon skinned the rabbits. He rinsed them in the stream, patted them dry with a handkerchief, and covered them with salt and pepper. He skewered them on green alder sticks, slowly twirling them above the glowing coals until they turned golden brown. We passed the skewers around the fire, dining caveman style, pulling off pieces of the tender flesh and stuffing it into our mouths. The film Jeremiah Johnson came to mind, and I declared, “You cook a good rabbit, pilgrim.” Moon smiled and nodded. Bellies full, stars aglow, faces reflecting in the campfire against the backdrop of tall dark firs, the world seemed unflawed. We crawled into bed and slept like kings and queens until morning light.

Next morning, Christia confided in tears, “I don’t think I can eat another bite of that damned rabbit.”

I really didn’t know what to say.

I gave her a hug, “Don’t worry too much, things will be ok.”

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