I haven’t seen my cousin Katy since I was twelve. She now lives in Scotland, about an hour away from Glasgow. I have only ever heard about Scotland in cartoon movies or in tales told by an old English man. Traveling there I expected mountains and rivers, but what I got was so much more. 

Katy is married with three beautiful children. They live in a quaint home with the mountains at their door step. Katy works for the forestry commission, and the woods are her workplace. So while I was visiting it was required that we went on adventures up hills and through trails. It wasn’t until I had been away from the wilderness that I realized how much I loved it. The padded moss carpets and squishy mud pathways. The trickle of a small stream or the roar of a natural waterfall.  There is something about the way the trees canopy above you. The way their cold green pines shoot up to the sky. The stillness around when you stand on top of a mountain is unbeatable. I have found a sense of escape in the forest, a sense of freedom in the mountains. If you know me, this is a fairly new to thing. 

Speaking of new, not only did I find freedom in what I did, but also in what I ate. I have dropped all of my eating restrictions while backpacking. The biggest reason being it makes catering to my appetite much easier. What a hassle it is to have a full roast dinner cooked for you, and to eat only the carrots and the potatoes. So while in Scotland, do as the Scots do, and eat haggis. Now if you don’t know what haggis is, I suggest looking it up. You would be surprised based on its description, it’s actually delicious. Katy’s husband Dave also works for the forestry commission. As of right now deer in their area are overpopulated, so he helps to control that. Which is how I ended up trying fresh venison! And let me say, for the first time in my life I understand the desire to hunt. I believe that when eating animal products, you can taste their fear. Scientifically proven, when animals know they are going to die adrenaline is released in their system. This makes the meat tougher, the taste difference is unbelievable. I’m trying not to be ignorant to the harm eating meat causes. I feel a piece of me rejecting every bite. Although, to be able to help control overpopulation while also killing in a way that doesn’t leave the animal in fear, is a lot more appealing to me than the meat found in the freezer section of Walmart. 

Going to Scotland has taught me a lot about myself. It has shown me that I need to be outside more. I need to pursue a life that will allow me to venture off into the unknown. To be around living creatures and beings, while also being surrounded by peace. I don’t know if this means I will soon be filling my freezer with meat I shot myself, but I do know it means change in how I view my food and life. My beliefs on the outdoors have shifted. It’s as if I can finally feel my roots digging into the soft brown soil beneath me. 

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