There were kurrah skins all over the fairgrounds. They’d gotten into a patch of volunteer potatoes and tore up the meadow something fierce. William and Zack Briarson were kicking chunks of sod back into the holes that had been dug, but if it rained there’d be nothing to stop anyone from calling it a mudpit.
I picked up the skins as I came across them, stuffing them into my old paper route bag. It was shiny from ink and sweat and grease and still smelled like the Hartwick Courant.
The skins were funny things – some were intact from the waist up, so you could almost picture how big the kurrah was before it shed. They had little strands on the inside like you sometimes see on an orange peel, but the outsides were smooth, almost glossy in the right light, but so thin that you could read your fingerprints right through them. They smelled like a cross between cabbage and cinnamon, if that makes any sense. I’d picked up at least two dozen before Zack called me over.
“What do you make of this?” he said, pointing at a big sheet of skin with his toe. It was at least two feet across, bigger than any I’d seen.
“Wow. That one must be at least four feet long,” I said. We said “long” rather than “tall,” probably not for a very good reason. It seemed easier to think of them as less than bipeds when it came time to clear out a nest. Some of the old timers couldn’t figure out what difference it made, but those were the same old timers who would cook and eat them in lean times. There were some certifiably country folk who lived out east of Millpond and Gerth Roads.
I’d be charitable in saying that the people who ate kurrah had probably never seen one wash the little shift of fabric that they sometimes wore around their necks, or seen one cry over their young when they got hit crossing 28 South. But I bet they’d seen it all and didn’t care. “Meat is meat,” they’d say.
There’s only so much empathy you can expect out of some folks.