Columns » Bob Lancaster

Fall, out

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Fall is the season that us macho survivalist types like best. While you city softies waste away the pretty days, we're out fighting nature tooth and claw, eating live squirrels and tarantulas and drinking rainwater out of muddy hoofprints. We strangle baby deers just for the heck of it, and commit other derring-do that sets up apart. There's no better feeling than sitting around a campfire on an autumn evening telling stories while meantime dodging a wild boar charging at you with razor-sharp tusks. Or having an old bobcat bite clean through the calf of your leg but serene in the knowledge that this is just part of Mother Nature's grand scheme. Fall is the best time for such activities, rather than too-hot summer or too-cold winter or spring before the pine cones get ripe. I thought I'd give you candy-asses some inside tips on how you can escape that cooped-up life and join those of us living life with gusto out here in God's Country. You can't pull 18-wheelers up a steep incline with a rope or bulldog wild buffaloes or such - you have to work up to that - but I can start you off simple with the basics. Like eating, which I know is your favorite thing to do. Or one of your favorite two. How about a tasty made-from-scratch soup? Start by gathering up a big mess of this goldenrod that's about taken over our autumn roadsides. Cram it down in your pot and simmer it over your campfire for about one hour. Throw in a couple of mandrake roots. Any tubers you can find, identifiable or not, add them. Grate up a couple of buckeyes and add them. A few of these red sumac leaves for color. Instead of cracker crumbs, find you a cave that has bats and crumble you some of that dried guano over your pot. Straining the soup with a cheesecloth or your T-shirt will remove some of the bitterness and the worst of the debris. Try a small serving on your dog first. My favorite campfire orderve is an omelet made of whatever kind of eggs you can locate. There are lots of wildfowl eggs in the autumn because laying them here makes the fall migration back up north a lot easier for the waterfowl. It's like having to take only half as much luggage for the hens. Duck eggs or goose eggs, it doesn't matter which, or filch you a half-dozen chicken eggs from one of these giant coops, they won't ever be missed. One year I found a rabbit egg - or what was left of one -- that the Easter Bunny had hid and a bunch of obviously half-blind kids had overlooked six months earlier. Other eggs in plentiful supply are alligator eggs, snapping turtle eggs, frog eggs, Lord God woodpecker eggs, petrified dinosaur eggs, and what I used to think were rattlesnake eggs until somebody wised me up and therefore must have been some kind of muskydime. I don't recommend the usual kind of muskydimes for your omelet but these pale ones aren't altogether disgusting and as far as I know aren't poison. Not seriously poison. Not lethal anyway. Two other essentials are your nuts and your berries, and I have at least 200 hair-on-your-chest recipes for each one of them, but I'm fast running out of room and have to move on to the piece de resistance. (That's French meaning a piece of resistance, as best I can tell.) That would be your big pot of pocket gopher stew. This stuff is so good you won't believe it. If one of these high-paid chefs tasted it, he'd just fall over dead of happiness. You first have to track you down some pocket gophers, of course, and 12-gauge shotgun the little sons-a-bitches. Well, no, don't do that. It's fun, now, don't get me wrong, but for the sake of the stew you're better off just stomping them to death or, like my former neighbor Mrs. B., hitting them in their burrows with a blower of concentrated auto exhaust. Those deadly gases will add a little zing to the stew later on, too. I mentioned burrows, but the best place to find pocket gophers is in the pockets of old clothes that people have thrown away. Most people take their old ripped or stained or out-of-fashion clothes to the Goodwill or the landfill, or just keep on wearing them, but some thoughtless types will just toss them out the car window and next thing you know they're veritable tenements for pocket gophers. An old sport coat with six pockets might have12 pocket gophers calling it home by tomorrow if a hobo doesn't get it first. And those 12 will multiply in a hurry. For purposes of your stew, if these happen to be old sportcoat pocket gophers with the last name of Mulligan, then you're really in for a treat. More later about prepping them, but there's not much more to it than rolling in cornmeal -- or some sawdust for us tougher types -- and throwing them into the Fry Daddy.

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