A bad outbreak of eczema on my hands has kept me out of the garden (especially that tomato patch) for a couple of weeks now. In fact everything, including typing, has been awkward and painful, so my keyboard has been silent and my camera has stayed shut up in its case.
The eczema didn't stop me picking up a shotgun, though, last Sunday. And this raised some interesting questions for me.
The gun was one I borrowed at our local clay pigeon shooting club, and with a bit of tuition, I found myself able to bring down a couple of the flying clay "birds". Until that point, shooting had been something that other people did, hunting had been something that men in Jane Austen novels were into, and war was something I was violently opposed to. Well. Things have changed! If I had been unable to hit a thing with the gun, I might have churlishly concluded that shooting is wrong, vulgar and distasteful. But actually, it seems like I might be pretty good at it. And this causes me to consider the issue more carefully.
Ok, so I'm still a pacifist. Holding a gun in my hands didn't turn me bloodthirsty, and no matter what the politicians say I'll always believe that there's an alternative to war. But on the other two points, my position seems to be shifting. Would I ever take a shot at something other than a clay pigeon or a fixed (ie inanimate, unliving) target? Would I consider helping to rid the Australian bush of its infestation of wild pigs? Would I ever shoot a duck or a pheasant (or a goat or a cow) for my dinner?
The last question is the one which seems most relevant here. After the previous post, I felt it was an achievement to grow my own food and bring it to the dinner table. Is the next logical step to try to shoot my own meat?
Theoretically, I've always supposed that if I'm prepared to eat meat I should be prepared to kill it too. I don't have much patience for people who suddenly go squeamish after visiting the chicken processing plant. Or seeing a fish killed down at the local jetty. I mean, where did they think their meat came from?
I feel that when I eat a steak or a piece of chicken breast, I have been responsible for the taking of that animal's life. But in practice, I've only recently started to kill spiders, and only on account of how poisonous they are here, which by the way doesn't make me feel any easier about killing them.
I haven't reached any conclusions about all this yet. I feel that I'm way out at the boundary of my morality. It's quite an interesting place to be.
*I do love eating sandwiches for dinner. It has recently come to my attention that the word 'dinner' actually refers to the largest meal of the day, so perhaps I should say 'sandwich supper' or 'sandwich tea'. Anyway, a delicious well-crafted sandwich for an evening meal is just about perfect for me. This one features smoked chicken, cranberry jelly, camembert, rocket and mayonnaise all on hearty local seedy bread.