It’s striking how many of the new novels in the Young Adult Fiction genre are dystopian. I find myself wondering why that is? Dystopian novels have always fascinated me too – I’ve read dozens of them. There was one in particular that has stuck with me – “Into the Forest” by Jean Hegland. In this book, there is no particular reason given for why society collapses – a far off war and a dysfunctional Congress are mentioned in passing, but there is no dramatic single event that causes the economy to collapse, the electricity to go off, the supermarkets to empty out, the gas stations to close, communication systems to disappear . . . Yet all this slowly happens and eventually the heroines realize they are on their own. It’s time for them to farm, hunt, forage, and generally fend for themselves. Of course they are up to it, as all of the heroines in these novels are.
I would be totally useless.
How does one bake bread, for instance? I mean without a machine and just-add–water dough mix (not to mention an electrical outlet to plug the machine into)? How is soap made? Or candles? What is wax anyway and where does it come from? Which of those nuts and mushrooms and green leafy plants I see in my yard can be eaten? How does one go about saving seeds? Which of the canned goods in my kitchen cabinet were bought within the last 10 years?
I could probably handle making fire – at least until my last Bic lighter runs out of gas. Sometimes I chop wood and kind of enjoy it. I fantasize about being pioneer girl for five minutes or so. Then it gets old.
Could I kill an animal, skin it, cook it and eat it? No, no, no, and no again.
A long time ago, Dog Two managed to catch a rabbit and shake it dead. It happened too fast for my husband to intervene and save the poor thing. He was really upset by the time he finally got Dog Two to let go. He scolded her really vehemently and almost dragged her to her blanket, leaving the dead rabbit in the driveway. Once he calmed down, there was a pause and then, with a little gleam in his eyes, he said quietly, “That is really good meat out there!” He brought the dead animal inside, threw it in our kitchen sink, and then started sharpening our best long knife.
“You’re not going to skin that thing, are you?” I asked incredulously. “Do you even know what you are doing?”
“How hard can it be?” he answered.
He then booted up his laptop and found a YouTube video demonstrating how to skin a rabbit.
As fascinated as I was at discovering this new side of my husband, I couldn’t watch the butchering. I stayed out of the kitchen until all evidence had been removed from the crime scene. For the next few months, I averted my eyes from the little package of frozen rabbit meat in the freezer.
When he finally cooked it, he pulled out all the stops. It was a gourmet extravaganza that would have cost a fortune in a restaurant. I took one tiny taste of the meat and immediately sensed my stomach churning. I apologized.
“I just can’t,” I said. “It’s just like the time you made venison stew. I felt like I was eating Bambi.”
Or, in this case, Bugs Bunny.
There is no dystopian novel in which I could be the heroine. Unlike my brother-in-law who hunts or Nlyart who can harvest meal after meal from a garden the size of a postage stamp, I have zero end-of-the-world skills. In the film version of this non-existent book, I would be one of those nameless cast-of-thousand characters who all croak in the first five minutes.
I should probably do something about this. Maybe start with some internet research. Find out what wax is. And how candles are made.