Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Involving Cows...


  1. The thing I remember most about Germany is the cow pastures. We lived in a little village with a seminary. The population of the town was about 5,000. If you take away the cow demographic, it was probably 462, give or take.

    In the morning, the dewy grass in the pastures would smell like wet hay and fresh cut lawn. In the afternoon, all you could smell was the cows themselves. In the evening, the breeze always came in from the little clumps of pine trees that had stood since Charlemagne’s day and it was like an air freshener for the dairy world.

    The cows were always noisy. I remember my brother and I gave the cows names based on the sounds they made. One was Chewbacca. One was Squeaky. Another was Bomber, named after the rotund Hobbit because she wheezed when she mooed, as if she were too fat to even be a functioning and vital cow.

    I’m not sure when I realized that no one could honestly keep track of all those cows. I don’t really recall a particular moment of awakening and I don’t remember there being a specific event that triggered it. Once I realized it, though, a whole new world was opened up to me.

    It was sunrise the first time. The grass was wet and clumps of it stuck to my Puma sneakers. Most of the cows were up, but they didn’t really notice me.

    I went out to the middle of the field, spotted one cow in a group, and I shot it in the head.

    The cow fell to the ground almost instantly. My dad’s revolver rang out loudly in the morning air, but there were enough hunters in the area that no one would even think about it. The other cows were startled, but they didn’t stampede. They just sort of moved on.

    And I began the countdown, marking the days before the farmer noticed.

    It was about eight days that first time.

    Over the next six months or so, the longest it took was a full two weeks. I was pretty proud of that one. One time, it was the same day. That one made me nervous.

    Still, when it’s crisp out in the morning and I feel the dew in the air, I often think back to Germany and the cow pastures.

  2. Wow! A psycho cow killer. What a concept.

  3. The hot morning sun burnt off the dewy remains. I looked out across the fields and sighed.

    Nothing but grass; day in - day out. Same old - same old. What I wouldn't give for one of those chicken sandwiches my cousins were always raving about.

    No one was paying any attention to me as usual. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if they did. I couldn't figure it out though; my spots were in the right place - no weird patch over half my face like Lucy had. I didn't moo overly loud. I tried not to step on anyone's hooves when the farmer came with sweet hay. I was very conscience of where I lifted my tail as well. But somehow it wasn't enough.

    I glanced over at Bessie and tried not to be jealous. She was the lead cow and we all had to follow her. The one and only time I'd tried to go around her in the line - well, let's just say she put a hoof up my ass.

    I didn't understand why all the other cows thought she was the goddess of the cow world. I mean, would you look at her scrawny ass. Having a skinny butt might be kosher for the farmer's daughter, but us cows flaunted our curves with pride.

    Now here's the thing, just because Bessie has managed to diet her way down to a size zero, all the rest of the girls have too. But not me. That I refuse to do. I don't care how many dirty looks she gives me.

    I look up. Here comes the farmer. Sweet hay? What a treat. Bessie and the others move away from him. Are they crazy?

    The farmer walks right up to me and pats my head. How nice. "Well, Liza," he says, "I hate to do it, but since the other girls don't have an once of fat on their bones, you'll have to do."

    How exciting! Maybe I was being chosen as a chicken cow. I'll be in calendars; on TV; billboards. I'll get sweet hay every day.

    I followed the farmer to a truck where he loaded me up. With a final pat on my rotund rump, he closed the door.

    "Take her away, Roy," shouted the farmer.

    "Hey Bob. How many pounds of hamburger did you want?"

  4. Awwww! No one could come up with a happy ending?? Bunch of bovine murderers is what you are. And where's the romance? ;)

  5. I grew up on a farm with 500 head of cattle - no romace - trust me, but a bunch of bovine murdering went on . . .

    Hey, at least I gave the cow a personality . . .

  6. It always makes me smile. It always makes my co-workers laugh. It makes my clients a little uncomfortable, and so makes my bosses more than a little irritable.

    “Why,” they ask – and, trust me, there is little variation on this pattern – “do you have a picture of cows in a pasture?”

    The answer I give varies, but it's never convincing. I used to tell the truth, but the truth was too simple, so I've ranged all over.

    “It's art.” Well, if you ever see the picture, you'll know that's not true. It's not a terrible picture, but it's not artistic in any way.

    “I used to live in Iowa.” Honestly, I'm not even sure why I try that. I'm a city boy with a South Carolina drawl as thick as your dad's beard.

    “I want to live on a farm someday.” The the bit about being a city boy.

    “I'm a biologist and my specialty is cows.” And now I just happen to sell renter's insurance.

    “I just like cows.” There a cow people. There are rooster people. There are tea-pot people. I've even known sunflower people and cardinal people. One look around my desk or at my wardrobe and it's pretty clear I'm nothing of the sort.

    The truth is, looking at the picture just helps me remember.

    The air was moist with a crisp winter fog. City lights reflected all around in reds, oranges, and the occasional flash of bluish-white. The snow had been on the ground long enough that it was no longer damping the sound, and it was no longer truly white.

    Shawna and I stood, looking in the window of a down-homey kitchen store. They had a picture on one wall of some black and white spotted cows in a green pasture. It made Shawna grin, because it was a little bit of green and a little bit of warmth.

    I couldn't stop staring at the way her caramel eyes sparkled when she looked at that picture. Her cheeks, reddened by the breeze, dimpled with her her toothy smile. She looked like she was bouncing up and down inside her skin.

    There was no helping it. I grinned, too.

    And when her mitten clasped my un-gloved hand, I felt warm all over, too.

    “You wanna buy that picture?”

    “I doubt it's for sale,” she laughed.

    “It will be if I tell them it makes the most beautiful girl in the world smile.”

    She blushed and turned awkwardly away from the picture. She started to walk down the sidewalk, swinging my hand gently, as her posture stooped just a little to dodge the compliment. I saw her sneak a glance over her shoulder, though. She took one last look at that picture

    I think I was staring at the picture at my desk when I heard a cough behind me. A mittenless hand eased onto my shoulder. I squeezed the hand between cheek and clavicle in a casual but intimate hug. I the index finger.

    “I can't believe you still have that picture, Dan.”

    I looked up at her and saw the same grin. Her caramel eyes still sparkled. Her cheeks still dimpled.

    My eyes were rimmed with sentiment as I kissed her hand. “I can't believe I still have you, Shawna.”

  7. There, Deb, just for you, a second flash.

    And, Lori, I love the cow's eye view. lol

  8. Awwww, Nevets...that's so sweet. Where are those kind of guys??