Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cows and Other Signs of Fall

The cows are back.

That’s always a sign of fall, when the cows come back. I don’t know who they belong to, but when they come back to the pasture just south of town from wherever they pasture all summer long, I know fall is really here.

They seem excited to be back, if the constant bustle, mooing and occasional odors mean anything. I don’t find it offensive; it’s just what happens around Sugar City when the cold weather starts to come. It’s just like being able to see Orion in the sky above the trees across the street when I go out to get in the truck to go catch the bus.

They help add dimension to this little town, with their lows and smells. They remind us that there is an earth to live on here, not merely a collection of houses surrounded by streets and connected with bits of wire hanging on dead trees. And I’m sure they do that field a lot of good, what with their fertilizing it all winter long.

Seeing them in that pasture reminds me that nature has to live outdoors during the winter. Despite the cozy stories we write about moles and rats and frogs retreating into their holes or boles or mansions replete with carpets, paneling, fireplaces and cozy places to sleep, nature does indeed dwell in mere holes in the ground, in pastures, swimming in ice-cold water, flying in brittle skies. The little birds that stay here all winter to eat the crabapples in our neighbor’s tree, and even the housecats exist on this earth, gilding the lily, being provided for without toiling nor spinning.

And our hollyhocks, gone last year after a weeding cataclysm, are back and have certainly enjoyed the colder weather. We ought to have a pretty stand of them next summer. I wish I could get them to grow somewhere else, but the seeds just seem to blow away.

The cows don’t blow away. Nor do the sheep and chickens that a family on the south side of town keep, gentleman farmer-like. I grew up with chickens. They can be dumb. But still, a lot of fun as they waddle about. They’re not as noisy as cows in a group, but they can be.

I wonder what it is that compels the cows to be so chatty. Maybe they’re commenting on the presence of a new business at what used to be an abandoned factory on the edge of their pasture. The old brick building has new windows, its yard is filled with farm equipment. Maybe that’s what gets them to talking.

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