Last weekend, it clicked for Finch that my mother’s family name means “of the marsh” in French. We were birding at Point Pelee, haunting the spring migration, and he noticed furry movement.
“Eastern cottontail,” he said.
“Bunny!” I said. “I could eat that!”
“You always say that,” he marveled. “It’s your DNA, isn’t it? You come from a long line of foragers — those marsh people. And every time you see a new creature, you automatically assess whether it could be food.”
It’s true. I see a bunny, and I instantly say “I could eat that.” I’ve said it about fish, all manner of small furry creatures, pheasant, grouse, gulls, blackbirds, geese. (I draw the line at ducks, it seems, since the bufflehead seems to be my spirit animal). I even muse out loud about how many warblers it might take to make a meal — on little skewers of course.
It’s not like I would actually sneak out into the swamp and whack a muskrat on the head with a shovel, as my ex’s Mimi (southern franco-ontarian for “grandma”) did on more than one occasion. (Once in full view of the family during a Sunday dinner). God knows I couldn’t skin a rabbit, and I doubt if I could actually even bait a fish hook. But there is part of me that wonders, “could I eat that?” I suppose the unshaped part is “if I had to.”
Prothonotary warbler reflected in one of the very marshes my ancestors may have haunted for varmints. A bird I probably wouldn’t eat. Too bony and crunchy.