ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BUSH COOK: MISS QUINCY OFF THE GRID
Life on the road with a rock n’ roll band means a lot of time spent behind the wheel rolling from one bar to the next. Road food, late nights, whiskey shots, inside jokes, shared beds, and never enough sleep. Intense relationships are formed, friendships and music are made, band parents are adopted. There’s nothing like it. Four girls, one mini van, hundreds of shows. After a long tour one might think a tropical vacation, a spa retreat, or at least an intense liver cleanse would be in order – my solution, however, is going to work in a hunting camp.
I am a bush camp cook and so were my mom and my grandma. My family has been involved with hunting outfits for generations. I started going to the mountains with my family when I was four years old ad have only missed a few seasons since then. Even with this family history, I never imagined that working in bush camps would become such a long-standing habit for me. As it turns out, it happens to be the perfect antidote to too much time on the road. Those few fall months that I spend in hunting camps are a complete contrast to my road life of rock n roll and poor choices.
Here is a day in the life of a bush camp cook:
5am in rock n’ roll time is very late at night. In bush camp this is time to get up, light the fires, put the coffee on, and start breakfast. Getting out of my warm sleeping bag before dawn on a frosty morning is the hardest part of my day. I’ve never gotten used to it.
Breakfast is a necessary evil for a bush cook. Hotcakes, bacon, eggs. The morning may start off cold, but after standing over a griddle on the wood stove all morning the cook shack becomes the hottest place in camp.
By 9am everyone has gone hunting. This is my favourite part of the day. I start a batch of bread and set it to rise, do my daily baking – cookies, pies etc. Then I play my guitar, hang out with the pack dogs, check in with the horses, haul water and chop wood. This is when the songs get written and when the romance of living off the land actually feels romantic.
By 3pm I’m back in the cook shack and getting dinner on. Moose ribs, sheep steaks, caribou roast – whatever animals are in season. My menu revolves around what meat I have to cut in the meat shack. All the other groceries are either flown in or brought in by horse pack string. A bush cook knows exactly how to pack the eggs and which horse will carry them. Things like fresh vegetables are highly prized. Milk comes in powered or canned form. Cooking on a wood stove is an art form and a bush cook is judged by the quality of her homemade bread. I take my woodpile very seriously.
Hunting times depend on the daylight. If the guides and hunters don’t get home by dark, you can bet they’ve got an animal down. Dinner is a time for hunting stories. I have developed an allergy to hunting stories from overexposure and have a talent for tuning them out.
After dinner comes dishes. You never realize how much water it takes to do dishes until you have to haul it in 5 gallon pails. My last chore of the day is to make the next day’s lunches for the hunters and guides.
9pm in rock n’ roll time is sound check. 9pm in the mountains is bedtime. This is when I read books with a headlamp and write letters. Remember what getting a letter is like? It’s awesome, especially when they come in every 10 days by horse pack string.
Miss Quincy performs with her all-girl rock n’ roll band the Showdown throughout North America. They are rumoured to sound like Joan Jett and the early Stones spending the night together in a Tarantino movie.