i was never a club kid. math club, science club–not even art club counted me as a member when i was young. in my twenties i did not go ‘clubbing’ although if someone would have approached me to join a dive bar club, i would have done so gladly. so, when my friend jenny (a sonoma county transplant by way of la) told me about the club she was starting i was hesitant at first. that uncertainty faded pretty fast when she told me what the club was about…hunting, gathering, gleaning, growing, cooking, fellowship, eating, lots of wine and a club t-shirt emblazoned with the most bad ass club logo ever, all included with the club dues.
growing up in the 80s in southern california meant that for me, food came from the grocery store. i knew farms existed but they were magical places from a lost era like the unicorns i collected figurines of. even though i knew that a burger came from a cow and had seen cows, something in my brain didn’t make the full connection that i was indeed eating that animal i had seen grazing on the side of the freeway when we drove east to visit my aunt and uncle. like many artsy kids, i ended up going through my vegetarian phase and vegan phase and eventually ate raw foods only for about six months. i was called back to my carnivore roots on a college road trip by some beef jerky and i never looked back until a few years ago when the tentacles of the slow food, farm to table and homesteading movements finally reached me.
my aunt delilah was a big part of this resurgence of me caring about what i put into my mouth. delilah, a master food preserver and food crafter began talking about artisan food and what it means to eat consciously. i admired her root cellar and watched carefully as she taught me how to properly can preserves and pickles. then i moved to sonoma county where pretty much everyone has a backyard chicken coop and cans their own jams. my DIY ethos still hasn’t pervaded my culinary life the way it has taken over the rest of my life, but thanks to the dry creek gun club i’m getting closer.
i attended my first gun club event, a salmon feast on sunday. the menu was born of the fruits of the members labor. jenny caught, cleaned and prepped the salmon which was grilled. she even buried the head under a lemon tree and made salmon cakes from the carcass. there was a bear leg on the bbq. huge beautiful oysters. a goat (some of the best meat of any kind i’ve ever tasted) that was raised and killed by the man who brought it. veggies and fruits from gardens not even 100 feet away from where we sat on red and white checkered covered picnic tables feasting and drinking local wine from mason jars. i ate each lovely bite with grateful attention to everything and everyone that brought it to my plate. everyone that was there seemed as grateful as i was, maybe even more so.
i couldn’t help but feel like i was in a strange church of honest good people gathered on the hill of jenny’s tiny white house on the grounds of a winery to appreciate a few hours of food and wine and regular old happiness. it was brilliant. among the gathers— burro bob, a man with 80 burros who lives off the grid and who can only be contacted through a po box. an amateur taxidermist from oakland. a buddhist veterinary nurse. a hollywood set designer. a man who invented part of the technology that allows me to even be posting this right now. a lawyer. winemakers and cellar workers. a hunter who let jenny watch him skin a boar he’d shot and asked her to stick her hand under the dead animals thick pelt of fat to feel how deeply a bullet must penetrate it. there were so many more interesting people there too, but i didn’t get a chance to talk to all of them…which gives me just one more reason to count the days to the next dry creek gun club meeting. and yes, in case you were wondering there are guns and lots of talk of planning hunting trips. for now i’ll stick to practicing on PBR cans with the BB gun in my backyard.