FWF prompt from Kellie Elmore at: http://kellieelmore.com/
You… are a cow.
You, the cow, have a story to tell.
Chew on that a minute then…
tell me something good.
It was one of those lazy days, you know what I mean. Just a slight breeze tip-toeing through the meadow, where even the drone of flies seemed muted and slow, slogging through a summer wind in search of my sweat. Flower petals bent with a tired limpness, and all of us just stood there perspiring, trying not to move around too much for fear of overheating, taking everything slow and moderate.
Usually Bessie held conference at the water trough this time of day, gossiping shamelessly to any who approached for a drink. She would cajole and heckle till you gave a juicy bit for her to chew on with her cud, passing along her tidbit to the next foolhardy bovine visitor to her vicinity. Eventually we all began to dread our sating of thirst in the face of such aggravation, and a few of us would prefer the cloudy puddle water to facing her barrage of loquacious persistence. Today however was too hot even for her, and she stood limply in the shade of our lone oak tree, panting slightly and swatting at flies with an impatient tail.
It was a quiet day, nobody really wanting to expel the energy needed for proper conversation, limiting our verbal communications to small tired grunts and the occasional ‘hrumf’.
Very few of us noted the passage of the farmer’s daughter through the pasture, as we were all busy just trying our best to go about the necessary business of foraging without excessive heat stroke. Sometimes she brought treats, so the few that had the energy (or foolhardy minds) wandered out from the shade to watch her with a hopeful smile. She did not call a greeting, which was her usual way, or in fact even acknowledge our existence. There was a firm set to her jaw and shoulders, and she fairly steamed with agitation as she stomped her way through the patties in the clover. When a stone appeared in her path she kicked at it with a petulant toe.
She tossed her yellow pig tails and muttered sourly about the fate of a 12 year old girl in a fit of angst. I watched her passage with a smile, as I had always had a soft spot for little Kristie, and it amused me to see the blooming of her teen years burst forth into a contained tantrum where she thought no eyes could observe her.
“Stupid pie anyway.” She was heard to mumble, and although for me this was out of context, I could see the passion of her emotion, and could only guess at her transgression. She had gotten into trouble earlier that year for stealing a cooling pie from the sill and sharing it with the goats (who should have known better) and I assumed she had gone and done it again. I shook my head with a smile and bent back down to the consumption of a pre-lunch clump of sweet grass.
I knew she was on her way to the dilapidated Chevy truck that was slowly decomposing in the north end of the pasture. She always retreated to this utopia of solitude when the world got too frantic. She would sit behind the wheel and drive herself on the fuel of imagination far away from whatever sadness ailed her. Sometimes she would carry on a one sided conversation with her unseen passenger, as they passed landmarks on the highway she had only read about in magazines.
These were interesting moments for me which I eavesdropped upon with avid fascination. A cow’s life is a slow and laborious thing, with a mental capacity for deep thought as about as profuse as snow in the desert, and her range of incomprehensible daydreams would hold me captive with envy. I was considered an anomaly amongst my peers as the only one in the history of memory who had ever asked about the destination of the dirt roadway that ran past our fence line.
Once as a young calf, after observing little Kristie’s enjoyment of the Chevy, I approached it to ascertain what could possibly be so engrossing about it. I discovered the hot metal had a most satisfying taste of salt about it, and spent a long while licking with contentment it’s pitted surface. I had attempted a mouthful of the remaining apoulstry but found it too hard to chew, and not nearly as sweet as the flavor of grass. This was the extent of my interaction with the rusted rig, and every cow in the pasture had tried this at least once.
I thought about this in a lazy sort of way as I mowed through a green patch, wondering what sort of world she was devising in her prattling solitude of the driver’s seat. I did not have long to ruminate before the world exploded around me.
It had been a while since little Kristie had found her way to the Chevy, and a family of bees had taken over the recess of the dash board. Being a hot day, the bees were not overly active, and their low humming was lost in the background, or over-ridden by the agitated state of mind of the farmer’s daughter. When she dramatically flopped herself with a huff into the seat, it brought the full attention of the soldiers, who reacted as bees do. They swarmed.
An angry cloud of protective bodies engulfed the hapless little girl, and she reacted as 12 year olds do. She screamed.
Flying out of the now crowded cab, flailing and wailing and wind-milling her arms, she ran about the vicinity of the truck with an awful racket. screeching and howling like a thing possessed, she beat at her body and bawled for someone to come to her aid. She was within sight of the house, but far out of ear-shot, so the only witnesses to her travails were myself and my herd.
Watching with a mild interest from a safe distance away, we observed her wild and erratic passage through the field. Swerving this way and that, wailing bad words no little girl should know, she beat a hasty retreat toward the homestead she had so recently left in anger, completely setting aside any remaining resentment for the comfort of her mother’s arms.
Squealing in a way we had never heard before, completely out of control and stripped raw, we glimpsed the untamed humanity brought on by a swarm of bees. The colony was long gone from Kristie and safely back at the hive, but there was nobody to tell her this. She abused herself with slaps and brushing at the now imaginary insects, howling like a banshee and sprinting like the devil himself was on her trail. So erratic was her passage, that she missed her mark completely and had to take a hard right angle to avoid collision with the electric fence. Diving under the first available dell beneath the wire with the astonishing agility of youth, she slowed down not at all as she hove toward the safety of the farm house and disappeared inside.
Now I must admit that we were all quite slow to react. We had watched her crazed flight through the pasture, heard the nasty stream of words she spat along the way, and watched her subsequent dive beneath the fence, all with a mild expression of one who takes life and thought very slowly. All of us had stopped what we were doing to watch the show however, such entertainment does not come often to our field. No cud was chewed, no grass devoured, and not even a fly swatted.
We slowly turned to look at each other, then back toward the house, then back toward each other, and once it had fully soaked in, we began to laugh. The laughter of cows is very rare, we are a stoic bunch, and there is not a whole lot that tickles our fancy. It was just one of those days, ya know? It had been so hot and lazy, slow and silent, and this hilarity had burst upon us with the suddenness of a tornado.
Quiet lowing and a snort or two, a few stomps to emphasize our feeling, and a human observer would have no idea that this entire heard was actually ‘rolling on the ground’ with laughter. We shook with it mightily for quite some time, until Bessie forgot what we were laughing about (cows have a terrible memory, especially Bessie). When we reminded her it brought fresh gales of laughter from all of us, as the mental image of Tornado Kristie flashed once again through our minds.
It was a while before the herd regained what passed for normality in the field, but the gaiety of the moment colored the rest of our day. The heat seemed not so harsh, the flies not quite such a bother, and a few were seen to randomly snort with a lingering chuckle. The others mostly forgot upon the next day the amusement that had gone before, but I did not. As I have mentioned before, I am a bit different than my fellows, and every time I glimpsed that old rusted hulk in the corner of the pasture I would smile to myself.
Little Kristie never came back to play in the Chevy, but she did still bring treats in the form of bruised fallen apples from the tree in the back yard. I don’t think she thought me any different from every other cow in the field, and had no way of knowing the fondness I had for her, but that never stopped me from loving her dearly.