one thought leads to another

As I hear about the snow that is being dumped all over parts of the East and the Midwest and well, everywhere it seems, I look at our blank canvas wondering if we really will get the forecasted snow. I like winter, but I am ready for spring at this point. Reading this article by Friend of the Farmer made me long for summer, when the Farm's gardens are in full bloom and the Kitchen is reaping the enormous bountiful benefits by way of vegetables and fruits up the wazoo. Winter at the Farm is a time when I am reminded of how much I miss fresh Farm grown produce; forced to remember as I lean into the freezer and paw with cold fingers, pulling out bags of processed and frozen Farm veggies.

Thinking of supporting local got me to thinking about our cows, (this is beginning to sound like If you give a mouse a cookie), actually one in particular, Sasha--who was one of the cows I learned to milk on about 6 years ago!--who was just taken to the slaughterhouse. It seemed strange, while milking on Sunday afternoon, to walk to her stall, only to find a new cow in her place. There seemed something almost sacrilegious about her place in the line being filled so quickly; that there was no mourning time. Funny how we grow so accustomed to certain things; sights, sounds, familiar faces--yes, even cow faces. Anyway, my mind is tired and muddled. All this thinking of cows led me to this. Ah, my beloved Billy Collins.

"Afternoon with Irish Cows"

There were a few dozen who occupied the field
across the road from where we lived,
stepping all day from tuft to tuft,
their big heads down in the soft grass,
though I would sometimes pass a window
and look out to see the field suddenly empty
as if they had taken wing, flown off to another country.

Then later, I would open the blue front door,
and again the field would be full of their munching
or they would be lying down
on the black-and-white maps of their sides,
facing in all directions, waiting for rain.
How mysterious, how patient and dumbfounded
they appear in the long quiet of the afternoon.

But every once in a while, one of them
would let out a sound so phenomenal
that I would put down the paper
or the knife I was cutting an apple with
and walk across the road to the stone wall
to see which one of them was being torched
or pierced through the side with a long spear.

Yes, it sounded like pain until I could see
the noisy one, anchored there on all fours,
her neck outstretched, her bellowing head
laboring upward as she gave voice
to the rising, full-bodied cry
that began in the darkness of her belly
and echoed up through her bowed ribs into her gaping mouth.

Then I knew that she was only announcing
the large, unadulterated cowness of herself,
pouring out the ancient apologia of her kind
to all the green fields and the gray clouds,
to the limestone hills and the inlet of the blue bay,
while she regarded my head and shoulders
above the wall with one wild, shocking eye.

~ Billy Collins


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