I had the most simple of upbringings. Being raised by my grams in a hunting and fishing outfitters camp was a wonderful childhood. Every single good warm & fuzzy memory I have comes from the cookhouse, a non stop parade of hunters, guides, family, ski dooers stopping for a meal and brewskis & of course our river tourists who come from all over to join in on our Fiddlers on the tobique, a float down the river with bluegrass musicians in boats oh yes and our dog sledding g competitions we had every winter, ya it’s so simple as I said. Almost like growing up back in pioneer times. We cut our wood, split and piled it. We ran for ice from the brook that flows across our land. We hD little in the ways of worldly possessions yet that cookhouse was the warmest, friendliest place I’ve known. It’s so sad to know it’s no more, all rotting into the ground because no one in our family of outfitters wants to keep our home, sad. How could the business and traditions carry on when no one even talks. I’m not too sure what happened all I know is one day everyone just separated, moved away, stopped calling everyone just scattered. I’ll never know as we don’t talk about anything. Nothing. I have such beautiful memories and will hold those log camps in my heart as they return to the earth.

When I moved away to go to college I noticed right away that a lot of conformity behaviours I did not know. I did not realize how many things I did not know, like basic practises of being house trained really. I didn’t wash my hands, clean after myself, use a coaster all these tidy things. I got use to people laughing at my redneck ways, roughness & bad habits that just was. We didn’t vacuum, dust things, have rugs and nice linens. It was scratchy grey blankets and mis matched everything. Butter tubs and ice cream containers for Tupperware, using snow on the porch to store food during the winter. We had deer, yep real deer in a pen, a bear at one point, moose hanging from trees, deer bear our trees were hanging stands for the carcasses to drain blood and age. I know how to skin any animal I don’t even remember when it’s second nature. I got a skinning knife on my 6th birthday. Or a doll. The soil of our land and mountain is drenched in blood. I have a few baby pictures left that community members gave me after the fires. A few photos that prove I existed. I’m on dead moose, next to barrels of bear bait, holding sticks of fish and racks of partridge. I am a woods woman. I can track a rabbit but learning g to fold laundry, remove a stain or properly take care of a home, clueless when I first left. I’ll never forget the first Black person I saw, like a ignorant redneck I starred. We had one Chinese lAdy who ironically ran the Chinese restaurant. I was use to hearing racism as a normal dialect, not that my family or any simple country family are mean and hateful it’s truly in all definitions ignorance. I was scared of all these new things, timid and uncertain. I learned one friend at a time first hand re see the world as it was completely flat in my eyes.

I found myself watching and mimici g others. How their closets look, things are arranged and basic life skills. I didn’t even know to wipe myself from front to back, that realization makes me sad still. The invisible girl. I had no one teach me makeup, hair care, anything womanly all I knew was self hate. As if something was greatly wrong with being a girl. A shame. Weakness I wish I had a son instead feeling. Rough & tumble that’s it. When I had my son I had this overwhelming feeling of being completely lost. Just because I had become a mother by birth did not make me a mom in all things mommy. I’m still becoming civilized daily. Boys I’ve had to learn the hard way at times but I’ve come a long way.

I’m always going to be a girl from up river and this I’m so proud.

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