imitating cowboys

You know how sometimes you offer your help and then regret the offer as soon as the task is at hand? Last night Farmer MacDonald stopped by looking for my housemate, RugbyGirl, because there were cows out of the pasture. As I listened to Farmer MacDonald, two thoughts popped into my head: 1. I had never been to this particular field where the cows were now out. 2. The times I've helped get the cows back into the pastures before I've always had fun doing it. So, I thought, "why not?" and offered my help to Farmer MacDonald.

I pulled my hair into a ponytail, pulled on my muck boots, hopped in the bed of the Farm truck and we were off; navigating the windy and hilly road out of town, past the town beach. We pulled off the road, alongside a picturesque field which I have driven past many times before; admired as a spot where the changes in our New England seasons can be viewed at their greatest; a field of tall grasses and reeds, hedged in the back by a row of trees and further back still, the hills.

Stepping into the field, flashlight in hand (as it was approaching sundown) we wondered at how beautiful it all was. I walked with my hands stretched out, palms running over the tops of Queen Anne's Lace and field grasses; stared over the mountains at the sunsets progression, the pale pink and yellow streaks in the darkening sky. Everything was gorgeous. And we had a purpose. Real Farm work. We were like cowboys of old...wrangling cows. I felt amazed at how cool my life was. How cool everything was at that very moment.

...That was until the first (of dozens) HUGE, I MEAN HUGE!! horse fly bit me. We neared the back of the field where the cows had somehow gotten out of the pasture and into the woods and were greeted by an army of flies. It seemed like all at once we were hit with the realization of how hard this work might be: the deer flies and mosquitos were horrible; we had to try and get into the woods by climbing over barbed wire, snagging hands and clothes; we had to make our way through a darkening forest with flashlights, trying to figure out where the cows were by the sound of them running away from us. We searched until it was decided there was nothing else we could do. It was getting late and the cows were probably going to go to sleep soon anyway, may as well let them just sleep in the woods where they'd run off to. And it was too dark for us to be of any use anyway. I was so thankful when the farmers decided these things; so thankful to be climbing back into the bed of the pickup truck.

On the way home I laid back and stared at the stars in the sky; stared out at everything we were leaving behind; at the way that the brake lights made everything red--houses momentarily deepened in color; the road behind us glowing, seemingly reflecting the heat of that day. I closed my eyes and tried to keep track of where we were on the road, a road we travel often. This was a game I played as a child, as my parents drove us on familar routes; sitting, eyes drawn tight, trying to envision the road as it would be when I opened my eyes again; feeling the familiar pull of curves, misshapen potholes, funny bumps in the road. It was this game that washed away the weariness of my day, made me glad that we imitated cowboys for a while.

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