The Pig Roast

Suddenly it’s like the couple Spring-like weeks we had never happened. The northeast hit with a major blizzard, the Moosehead Lake region of Maine accumulated over three feet of snow. It was almost spiritual – for three days and three nights we woke up and went to bed with it still snowing. The temperature hovering around thirty two degrees, the snow wet, the sun warm. And it all happened just before the pig roast.

IMG_E3764

IMG_E3767

IMG_E3801

We had the idea weeks before – We should have a pig roast for the end of season party! None of us had ever roasted a pig before, but one of our cooks is from Southern Louisiana, so I didn’t hesitate to put my trust in her. Barbecuing is like, they’re thing, right? We ordered a sixty pound pig from the local Maple Hill Farm, who had it dressed upon pickup. Finn, our maintenance guy, fashioned an adjustable post with a rotating skewer.

IMG_E3763 (1)

IMG_3811 (1)

Then when the snow hit, I had doubts whether it would work. How could we properly cook a pig with three feet of snow on the ground and it actively snowing? But my team pulled through.

On the morning of the party, Taylor was outside at 7 AM digging out the fire pit. By 10:30 the fire was roaring hot and the pig was ready for the rotisserie. I sat by the fire for almost the whole six hours. The snow was wet, but the fire was so hot  it kept my clothes dry. Anyone standing close enough could see the steam evaporate off their clothes. The high walls – about four feet or so – kept the area well insulated. It was overall a good time.

IMG_E3798 (1)

I have been vegan for over a year now. Obviously the pig roast was an exception. I recently spent hours marinating on veganism, trying to figure out how I felt about the whole pig roast thing. It did not make me want to eat meat again. Down with each chunk of pork went a tinge of guilt. I had many friends and family, after they saw pictures, ask what happened to my veganism. I’m still vegan and care very much about sticking to a plant based diet, but I’d also like to point out the difference between commercial meat and locally farmed meat. It is a totally different experience – eye opening – to watch a whole animal get cooked in front of you, knowing the day before it had been alive. This is how meat is supposed to be enjoyed. Rarely, locally, and with respect. Not wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam on a brightly lit shelf, with no idea where it came from. And if you did know you’d be disgusted by the treatment and condition of the animal you’re about to consume with zero regard to its life.

IMG_3810 (1)

When I was nineteen I was on a trail crew in Colorado. One night, camping on a lake, a group of fisherman gifted us freshly caught trout. I had never deboned a fish myself. It really grossed me out, seeing it’s eyeballs and cutting the belly open. I couldn’t do it. I made someone else do it. A girl on my crew rolled her eyes at me and said, “You don’t deserve to eat meat if you’re not willing to kill it yourself.”

At the time I thought that was kind of rude. She was older than me, twenty-four, and opinionated. She was also right. I’ve learned since then the value of her words and respected her ability to be blunt. There are several reasons I gave up animal products four years later, but I can trace back to a single moment when I finally decided, okay that’s it. Last year I was watching a documentary about plant based diets on Netflix, I forget which one. At one point a vegetable farmer came on screen – white hair, tan face – and said, “You can’t call yourself an environmentalist if you eat meat.”

That was it. I realized how hypocritical (and arrogant?)  I had been all these years to call myself green – an environmentalist, even – and still eat meat. I was never an environmentalist, I was just ignorant. But I wanted that to change. So I quit animal products. Hopefully this is just the start of a lifetime of learning to simplify, to scale down, to reverse consumer habits, to sustain, to choose earth first.

Not even environmental organizations choose earth first. I’ve decided that from now on my response to anyone declaring from atop their moral high horse, “That’s bad for the environment” will be “You’re bad for the environment.” What is usually a childish retort is suddenly literal. You as a human are terrible for the environment.

With all that said, I still believe that if you can raise and kill your own meat, or if you buy from a local farmer for special occasions, then that is a sustainable way to eat meat. Of course, if you’re a vegan who believes killing animals is wrong, then you’ll disagree anyway. However, humans have been eating animals since the beginning of time, and there are still indigenous communities in places like Latin America and Southeast Asia that eat meat and are far more earth-friendly than any American will ever be, even vegan Americans, because they connect to the earth on levels that American culture could never fathom. They are suffering the affects of climate change the heaviest, with unbearable heat, rising waters, melting glaciers, droughts, and floods. When the time comes  the earth makes a final, irreversible push back, they will be the first defeated, which to me is the sickest, most evil irony of the human race. That those who cared the most about the earth, and who did nothing wrong, will be the first dead, and it will be our fault: America and every other power-saturated country who cared more about getting rich by earth-stripping industrial farming techniques and poisoning it’s people with excessive foul meat products (among a thousand other crimes) than taking care of the earth. Is that why we call her Mother Earth? (Note: veganism=feminism) Because we take and take and suck and steal and abuse and never give back until she’s near death, and then we show up at the funeral and wish we could take it all back, but it’s too late?


Everyone should read Eaarth by Bill Mckibben.

For basic info read this NY Times article, annoyingly categorized under “Unexpected Reads,” because it should not be unexpected. This should be common knowledge. Fact.


After thought: Everyone in our society is talking about becoming “woke.” Usually in reference to race or gender politics. But what about waking up to the earth? I mean, what’s even the point of being woke on any other matter if in a century or two the human race will be extinct?

 

***These opinions are my own and do not represent AMC***

Another New Beginning at Appalachian Mountain Club

It’s been so long since I’ve made a blog post! So much has happened since last summer – I left Portland, changed jobs, and made another cross country road trip.

I find myself here in Maine, a little amazed by the choices and chances that landed me here. Last Summer my partner Taylor and I decided we wanted to move out of Oregon and back to the east coast. There was a number of reasons for our decision that I won’t get into here. But I will say that since leaving Oregon, particularly Portland, I have had nothing but fond memories. I already miss it. It wasn’t always easy when we were there, and by the end I was excited to get out of the city, but Portland certainly left a mark in my soul. It really was the place I became an adult, or at least the first true adult version of myself.

Where I am now could not be more opposite of Portland. I’m working for Appalachian Mountain Club, the oldest environmental conservation club in the country (Yes, even older than the Sierra club!) AMC protects lands, waters, forests, and trails in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, and aims to educate the public on environmental health, ecology, and conservation. They provide recreational opportunities for the public and inspire the next generation of outdoor leaders. I had heard of the AMC prior to working for them, but am only beginning to understand the extent of influence they have on the future of environmental conservation and outdoor recreation in the Northeast. I could not be more thrilled to be a part of it.

IMG_3705

Lyford Lodge

I work at  Little Lyford Pond Camps, one of three AMC lodges in the 100 mile wilderness of Maine. Lyford is the most rustic of the three, originally built in 1873 as a logging camp. Before AMC came along, logging was the main economic force in the 100 mile wilderness. Since 2009 Lyford has been a sporting lodge for skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, boating, fly fishing, and much more. We provide guests with private cabins, three home cooked meals a day, hot showers and a sauna.

IMG_3688

In the Winter, staff like myself travel mostly by snowmobile. To get to the nearest plowed road is a six mile drive from Lyford, which means that guests have to park in the winter parking lot and ski into the Lodge. This makes for quite interesting logistics as we schedule to pick up guests’ gear from the parking lot and distribute suitcases and backpacks to the correct lodges. Most guests do a “lodge to lodge” trip, meaning they spend a night or two at each lodge, skiing the lodge-to-lodge trail during the day. Since there is little to no cell service, we communicate via radios that also reach game wardens and Greenville, the closest town and AMC base, police and fire station.

IMG_3653

A beautiful shot of the tool shed.

 

IMG_3645

Green Drake Cabin. Most of Lyford cabins are named after fly fishing flies.

Our energy is a combination of solar and diesel generator. When the generator fails, which does happen, we have a booster that is essentially a giant back up battery that makes it so we can still communicate to the outside world in the case of a black out. Luckily, the lights in the lodge and cabins, as well as the hot water, ovens, and stoves, all run on propane gas. There are wood stoves in every lodge and cabin that keep us nice and toasty.

It’s quite an operation we got going here that I am excited to share more about in future posts. Subscribe to get all the stories!

Undoing the Farmer Fantasy

Every time I go to a farmer’s market, I’ve felt really good about myself. Like, oh look at me, supporting local farms, I’m such a good person.

But there’s so much more to farming than you might expect when you’re searching for the most perfect carrots. Good farming requires years of knowledge, hard work, serious dedication and grit. I learned this when I volunteered on a farm in Oregon City, the summer of 2017.

FullSizeRender (10) Continue reading

Crowded Hikes: The Death of Solitude in the Outdoors. And Are They Beyond Leave No Trace?

It’s finally sunny in Portland again and that means everyone wants to hike in our nearby parks and forests.

Let me emphasize, everyone.

It’s like the city evacuates and piles into Willamette National Forest. My first few hikes of the season had me thinking about Leave No Trace, as I witnessed people who don’t know what’s up.

With the outdoors so accessible from Portland, combined with the drastic increase over the past decade of recreation in national parks and forests, thousands of people traipse into the woods seemingly without a clue about Leave No Trace. Continue reading