Sunday, December 14, 2008
A Cow Tale
This is a picture I shot from down the Glebe earlier this summer. I was not trespassing because I was on the state road. Only my camera lens trespassed.
Today we have a guest contributor, none other than the Anonymous Mathews Native Residing in the Suburbs of Richmond, otherwise known as AMNRITSOR in the comments section. Anonymous Native is not so anonymous to my family; she and Baby Sister played basketball "back in the day," and she lived in the house right across from the high school, which, ever since I can remember, has had a field of cows in front of it.
Cows are the subject of the story she is about to share with us. Thanks, AMNRITSOR for contributing, and welcome to the family - because based on what I'm reading here, we surely are long-lost relatives.
If there are any Mathews people reading this who would care to contribute stories, I welcome them with open arms.
A Story by an Anonymous Mathews Native
Young readers, let this be a cautionary tale – never tell anyone that you enjoy gift-wrapping, you will be cursed with doing all the gift-wrapping for your family FOREVER.
I have wrapped everything you can imagine -- from a single 4 mm pearl to an ironing board. My mother hands me my own gifts already boxed, SO I CAN WRAP THEM FOR MYSELF. I no longer do fancy bows or ingenious tags -- the thrill is gone.
When I was in college she saved all the wrapping for me when I got home for winter break. I usually accomplished most of it in the middle of the night when everyone else was asleep -- and it’s there that our tale really begins….
One night (at about 3 AM) I was sitting up to my shoulders in gifts and wrappings on the living room floor, wrapping like a robot, and trying to stay awake by watching a silent movie version of “A Christmas Carol” (has CBW mentioned that we only had 3 TV channels in Mathews back in the day? Well pickin’s were even slimmer at 3 AM -- the silent movie was the only thing on TV.) I was jolted out of this zombie-state by the surprising vision of headlights rounding the driveway, and I headed to the back door to see who it could be. No, no, it wasn’t Santa Claus -- if it had been any time before midnight, I would have stopped to put the coffee pot on , because it surely would have been my uncle, but this was even too late for him. I was met on the back step by a Mathews County deputy (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty), who calmly informed me that our entire herd of cattle (about a dozen cows) was outside the fence and wandering on the highway.
This was really bad. I had visions of horrible cow/car pileups and ensuing lawsuits. (I really need for CBW and CB Mother to find out the name of that stress-hormone they often reference in their posts, ‘cause whatever it’s called, it immediately started surging through my system.) I told the deputy that I would awaken my parents and that we’d be out the lane in a few minutes to gather the herd. I roused the ‘rents and threw on some warm layers, because it was about 17 degrees out, and trotted on foot out the lane.
I paused long enough to collect a “cudgel,” in case any of my bovine friends needed to be either persuaded (to come home) or dissuaded (from trampling me) and I was accompanied by my cheerful, loyal, loving, yet-not-too-bright dog. I set off down the lane, and found the oh-so-helpful (hear the dripping sarcasm?) deputy watching from his (warm) car across the highway, shining his headlights on the herd. The cattle were now between the highway ditch (remember this is Mathews – the ditches are six feet deep) and the pasture fence. There seemed to be no imminent danger of them getting back into the road.
I had no idea how they had gotten out, so my plan was to drive them along the fence/ditch corridor. Once I had them in motion, I’d climb back through the ditch to the highway, circle wide enough and fast enough to meet them at the lane, and encourage them to turn into the lane (instead of the highway) without spooking them. Once I got them back into the yard, I could put them into another enclosure until we could inspect the fences and gates in daylight and see where they had escaped.
The plan was a good one, except for one oversight which shall soon be revealed…. I trotted down the highway, and climbed (with some trepidation) through the dark ditch and began slowly to herd the cows along the ditch/fence corridor (and away from the church and graveyard on the corner – Yikes, cows in the graveyard! now that could have been very bad!). At this point, THE “HELPFUL” PUBLIC SERVANT DROVE AWAY--and left me alone—with twelve cows—in the dark—at 3 AM on Christmas Eve’s Eve! I couldn’t believe it! And still no sign of Mama (mumma) and Daddy!
I turned my attention back to the cows, who had gained sufficient momentum to make it to the lane. I was about to cease encouraging them from behind and to slip around to the side to perform the tricky one-woman-herd-turning-maneuver (ideally it should have taken about three people to do this easily – one “encourager” in the rear, one in front to stop their forward progress, and one to dissuade them from turning left onto the highway, leaving a right turn down the lane as their only option). Just as I was preparing to cross the deep, dark ditch once more, my not-too-bright “oversight” kicked into high gear.
The sight of several cattle moving in the same direction was just too much temptation for my mixed-breed, sheep-doggy, “Benjy-on-steroids” hound to resist! He suddenly started barking and nipping at their heels and driving them with such ferocity that I saw at least two dark shapes keel over belly-up into the ditch in the confusion. The rest of the cows high-tailed it for the courthouse! They were almost to Linda’s Diner before I could get them turned around.
And the dog! Afterwards, the crazy, dumb dog came loping up to me, grinning from ear to ear. If he could speak he would have said, “Wasn’t that great? They ran like crazy! Four of them s**t themselves and two of them fell into the ditch! This is fun! Why don’t we do this every night?”
I caught the dog by the collar and performed the rest of my herding maneuvers while dragging him along by the neck.* My lungs were burning from my belly-button to my earlobes. The mad dash in the cold night air catching the courthouse-bound cows almost KILLED ME. However, SHEER RAGE at the dratted dog and the disappearing deputy spurred me on and I caught those cows and turned them around. With gritted teeth, dragging the dog behind me, I managed to get them headed down the lane and into the yard.
Just as I chased the last cow into the yard, one parental unit careened around the house in her large sedan. The other cruised up from the barn in his pickup truck. Steamy, warm air billowed out of their vehicles when they rolled down their respective windows. I swear I could smell hairspray on my mother, and minty-fresh breath on both of them.
I mean come on, people! This was an emergency! No time for teeth-brushing and hair-combing! Where are your priorities?
My dad got a good chuckle out of the dratted dog and the courthouse-bound cows. At the time, I did not think it was funny.
*no actual dogs were harmed in this process -- he was just as happy and goofy as ever afterwards. Nothing fazed that dog -- one of his most endearing traits. The cows, even the ones who fell in the ditch, were equally unharmed. I, however, had a vicious cough for the rest of winter break (and a serious grudge against that deputy to this very day).
Chesapeake Bay Woman's Comments:
Anonymous Mathews Native is correct in that the ditches in Mathews County rival the Grand Canyon, and you surely do not want to end up in one, especially if you are a cow recently sprung from prison heading to the courthouse and/or Linda's Diner.