Exploring new ways of seeing, new ways of being with an open heart and an open mind
Sunday, June 27, 2010
The Night of the Living Cows
A weariness has overtaken me. Not enough sleep is part of it. Taking on a false sense of responsibility is the other. The neighboring farmer has a cow that bellered about every three minutes all night. I thought perhaps I'd left the garden gate open and one had entered and could not find her way out. I finally went out at 1:30 in the morning, to see if she was in distress and if I could do something to help. I saw nothing in the garden and realized the sound was further away, closer to the neighbor's farm than I first calculated.
I thought about a night long ago, when JB and I were visiting country cemeteries, wanting to check out just one more before dark. We turned into a winding little road that took us past a small herd of cows, silhouetted against the growing dusk. An old Gary Larson cartoon came to mind and I dubbed our adventure, "The Night of the Living Cows." Silliness was running rampant, maybe as a way to stave off cemetery jitters at that late hour. Sort of like whistling past the graveyard. We found it, set amongst some pines, and spent a few minutes looking at headstones, then left, just as darkness settled in.
This morning, I returned to the house, reluctantly, as I knew the situation was not resolved, but eventually fell back to fitful sleep, around 4:00, just as morning was not-so-quietly breaking.
I got up again around 6:30, brewed coffee and sat with anxiety, trying to come to terms with my inability to resolve the cow problem, realizing I could not accept responsibility for the neighbor's cows, but also being very aware, that if I didn't, in these circumstances, who would? Were they out of town, cows unattended? Was she concerned about her calf and needing assistance? Why was I shouldering a burden that wasn't mine? I was hoping an answer would reveal itself to me, so that, in the future, I would have clearer direction at hand.
It rained fairly heavily for about a half hour and then, at 8:30, I went out again and weeded the far perennial bed devoted to irises that had already bloomed earlier this summer. There are a few strays of other varieties that have created a smattering of color, but I had let this go, not being a priority. I thought it would be good to give the late bloomers some room to show off.
As I weeded, I questioned my sanity and thought about the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Cain kills his brother, Abel, over some petty jealousy concerning Abel's more fruitful offering. For punishment, Cain was relegated to tilling the soil from whence he came and we, so the story goes, are still paying the price. Or something like that. Anyway, that's where the questioning my sanity came in. As I questioned and weeded, a funny thing began to happen. I noticed how nice the bed was looking, how quickly it was returning to a weed-free state. How I was going to need the wheelbarrow to haul away the weeds. I decided I wasn't crazy after all, at least in that respect, finished my little project and walked back to the house in a happy state of accomplishment.
The cow stopped bellering, the sun started to peek through the clouds, then came out in full array. I think there's a terrible pun there, completely unintended.
Anyway, I took the rest of the day off.
This afternoon, out of curiosity, I googled bellering and found a site devoted to it, really, a forum in which farmers noted that last year, at least, cows were doing some excessive and overly loud bellering, mostly at their new calves. That answered my question. I think. So, what's up with the cow anxiety? What do they know, that they aren't telling us?