April 17, 2012

Boiled beaver funk

So last summer Rob found a skull. We had been boating on a lake in Oklahoma, and he had discovered it on the shore of some deserted beach somewhere. So, naturally, he swam it back to the boat to put into our beach bag.

Rob declared it to be a beaver skull. My brother-in-law Doug argued it looked more like some form of marmot. I deemed it to be disgusting and pointed out the bits of flesh and clumps of hair still clinging to it. And then I glared at Rob's contaminated hands that had carried it so painstakingly during the swim to the boat. And then I might have thrown up in my mouth a little.

So, naturally, it ended up in our beach bag and made the trip home to Texas.

And then... we weren't quite sure what to do with it. I mean, it really did have rotting flesh and hair on it. I'm all for decomposition when it's in the form of a compost pile, or a child-picked bouquet of dandelions that go straight into the trash, or a beaver skull that's left on a beach to rot.

Decomposition in my house? Notsomuch.

But Rob had his heart set on displaying this grotesque item on the shelf in his office, and my practical side took over.

So I stuck it in a pot on my stove to boil it.

I'm not sure why I never considered the consequences of this action. I'm a smart woman; I also cook meals that contain meat. All I know is that, about 20 minutes in, I was suddenly overcome by a gamey funk emanating from the boiling skull. And 20 minutes after that, the kids and I were gagging, throwing open windows in the 100+degree heat. And 20 minutes after that, even Orange Cat, who had previously been sniffing around the kitchen in interest, started howling in the open windows.

I don't know if the stench of the wild had possessed her, the beaver funk firing the synapses deep in her brain and triggering memories of her wild, outdoor-loving ancestors. Perhaps. Or maybe she was simply overcome by the nauseating smell and was protesting the kids and I staggering outside and leaving her behind to marinate in boiled beaver skull vapors.

Finally, however, sweaty and thick-throated, I stumbled back inside, removed the skull from the pot, and literally dry-heaved while pouring the greasy, chunky skull water down the sink.

And then, naturally, continued to use the pot for dinners. My sister Kayla actually just made popcorn in it this morning. Surprise, Kayla!

I have to say that the resulting skull was lovely. A perfect addition to Rob's shelf that contained giant trilobite fossils and my painting of Big Bend National Park.
Rob's little collection of death and desert.
But we did discover an alternative approach to skull-cleaning this past week while vacationing in Albuquerque, NM. An approach that made Rob and I look at each other in horror. And approach that prompted Rob to turn around and drive past it again. So, naturally, we took a photo. And I wrote this fantastic blog post.
You're welcome.


Erin Ferris said...

Just threw up in my mouth a little.

cobandrob said...

 I probably *should* post some potential vomit warning... :)