I recently celebrated my 31st birthday and with each passing year I am increasingly more thankful for all the experiences I have had the great fortune to enjoy. I thought I would compile a short list of the “little” things that give me great joy. I use the term “little’ with reluctance of course since these things are far from little. For those of you wondering how this probably seemingly mushy blog post is connected to Venture North Outfitting; all the items on my list are related to our outdoor lifestyle. When I first started writing this month’s contribution the list was simply…
• Family, Friends, Hunting, Fishing, Camping, Country Living, Cooking & Baking
However, I wanted to isolate small pieces of each –to root out the source of joy. So, my list evolved into the following…
1. Family: There is nothing more important to Aaron and myself than family. Aaron’s social media profile is simply: “Full time outdoorsman & family man…Welder the rest of the time.” We spend lots of time with our families and when we can’t; we miss them like crazy! There is nothing better than being with family; sharing everything from a home-cooked meal to a beloved pastime and anything else in between. In particular we get to spend time with the next generation of hunters in our family; our niece Tristyn who was so enthralled and proud of herself when Aaron let her cluck away on one of his calls. As well as our eldest niece, Keira and our nephew Keaton who frequently ask Uncle if they can shoot cans or balloons with the BB gun or when Uncle will have the kid quad and skidoo ready for riding. I must say though that getting ‘out-fished’ by kids every ice fishing season is starting to sting.
2. Friends : Aaron and I are very lucky to have a great circle of friends; who really are just like family. Their support over the years has been indescribable. We hunt, fish and camp with them. These same friends welcomed me with open arms to their hunting group and are always ready, willing and able to help out a fellow outdoorsperson. Since owning Venture North Outfitting we have met fantastic people and our circle has grown immensely. We look forward to building more friendships in the coming years.
3. Hunting: I never got the opportunity to hunt with my father when I was young, but my aunt took me under her wing when I was in university and taught me all she knew. I affectionately refer to her as Annie Oakley. Not only did this hobby help me connect with my aunt but it also turned into a lifestyle. Hunting has made me feel valuable, and even more so when I fill a freezer; when I contribute to our family. It has given me an increased appreciation for animals, conservation and nature in general. Hunting has given me a whole new skill set; not only can I harvest my meat, I can also butcher it with very little waste and cook it. Because of waterfowling, we have a bird dog that I get to learn how to train and work with each day; something I never thought I would be able to do –hunting challenges me and the successes feel so awesome.
4. Fishing: Much like hunting, this hobby has turned into a lifestyle. Ice fishing on Pigeon and Gull. Travelling all over Alberta to investigate the spots that Barry Mitchell wrote about in Alberta’s Trout Highway. I have to say that Aaron has read that book so many times I had to buy him a second copy. I can remember when I caught my first Cutthroat and my first Brown Trout! It was because of this book that Aaron bought me my very own fly-rod and accoutrements so that I could learn and enjoy it too. One day when I am more patient I’ll tie flies, in the meantime I will just raid Aaron’s collection. Even a visit to my family in BC turns into a Sturgeon fishing trip on the Fraser River outside Chilliwack and Hope or catching Kokanee in the Shuswap. Our honeymoon destination was Salmon fishing in Port Hardy and yes, I was the one that pushed for it. Our first few summers together as a couple saw us head off on 7 day fly-in fishing trips for Pike, Walleye and Lakers at Wiley Lake and Colin Lake in northern Alberta; where I was often uttering the phrase “We’re burning daylight!” Not to mention I successfully beat Aaron for biggest fish…and accidently knocked his rod overboard (don’t worry I replaced it!). It was even on one of those trips that Aaron proposed.
5. Camping: As a teacher I spend a lot of time with technology, and more and more parts of this job are tied to the computer –attendance, report cards, online classes, communicating with stakeholders, calendars, meetings, forms, lesson planning, etc. I even did a Master’s degree online last year. I genuinely love my job. I never really saw myself doing anything else. I feel sad when each school year ends. To be honest I feel totally discombobulated and lost, as if I don’t quite know what to do with myself when I’m not with my students. However, I long for the days when I can just unplug from computers, cellphones, and tablets and just get off the grid. I live for the days when we pack up the trailer and spend 10 days on the Forestry Trunk Road or get a group site with friends. It gives me a chance to breath and marvel and what Mother Nature has to offer and NOT stare at a screen.
6. Country Living: Aaron and I purchased his childhood home in 2015. Fifteen acres of heaven in Wetaskiwin County. The thought that our family will continue to grow and thrive here is exciting. I love that I can come home from work and go for quad and skidoo rides with my husband. It’s a thrill when we whip down the trails. I love that we can scour the bush and neighboring fields for sheds. This change from the concrete jungle to the country has allowed me to work on my green-thumb. In addition to a diet based on wild game (deer, moose, goose and duck) we grow lots of our own vegetables. There is something very therapeutic about tending a garden and harvesting the fruits of your labour. It’s a great feeling to see the cold room stocked with fresh potatoes, onions and carrots, the freezer full of veggies and baked goods made with zucchini, the pantry filled with jars of pickles that came from your own garden. We are by no means self-sufficient; but the thought of increasing that in our life is something that would suit me just fine. We are getting chickens, pheasants and bees (hopefully) this year too! Another perk of our home is sitting around the fire in the evenings and looking at the stars. The fact that I can set up my archery targets on the front lawn and fling some arrows whenever the mood strikes without worrying neighbours is a privilege. Being isolated from the hub-bub of the city has definitely done wonders for our quality of life.
7. Cooking & Baking: I strongly believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Cooking, baking and food in general brings people together. Recipes of yester-year are passed down and milestones are celebrated with family meals. I am in my element when I’m putting out a spread for family and friends. Aaron loves to cook, barbeque, make jerky and smoke all sorts of meats in his Bradley. Part of why we enjoy this is because most of the time we make meals that we have had the ability of harvesting the ingredients for.
Next month’s blog will feature a new wild game recipe.
What are you grateful for?