Saturday, August 22, 2020
Midnight in the garden of dust and discovery
When my phone vibrated the ID was "Mom."
"Hello," I said.
The phone replied, "This is Deputy (insert alias) of the Sheriff's Department..."
Oh fuck, I thought in that instant. Perhaps you can imagine.
"Your Mom just handed me her phone..."
Thank God, I thought.
"There's a cow out in the stubble west of your pasture. She was up on the road when I got here..."
Thank you Father, I thought. I also thought "good man" regarding Deputy Alias. He passed on solid, useful information in language just right for the situation.
"Yes," I replied. Thoughts were spinning through my mind. I had good reason not to want to leave. Kids and family to consider. Other stuff to consider. Obligation and duty and honor.
"I was wondering if you could maybe come out and put her in."
"Yes," I replied.
"Okay, thanks," he said.
"Yes," I replied.
The air was smokey, close, dense, warm. As I drove through town toward Highway 71 and thence the ranch I continued to be disturbed as I'd been all day. Irritated, grumpy, out of sorts. Pure, textbook selfishness. It had a strong hold.
I prayed as I drove and it helped as it always does. The selfish me put up a strong battle. What is it about selfish me that so relishes being angry and feeling awful? Don't know, probably never will. It's just part of the complex mishmash of stuff that makes up Shaun.
Hold on as it might, selfish Shaun was losing the fight. The warm, dense, smokey air wafted through the windows and the soothing and familiar feel of the night enveloped me in a close embrace.
"Ride with me Sweetheart. I need you."
She was there.
I felt bad and guilty. The day had been so very long and stressful and I'd hardly thought of her at all. Just the kids and family and navigating the treacherous rocks and shoals of the moment. Moment after moment after moment through an endless day.
"It wasn't a completely yucky day." That thought, certainly not from selfish Shaun and perhaps even externally generated, echoed around the empty cavern of my brain housing group. I smiled. Little ones. Big one coming home from school with a huge smile and news of a day he relished. Shared support, smiles and jokes and laughter, each of us fighting our own selfish demons, fighting through the hurt and anger and irritation.
Fuck no, not yucky. Hard, but not yucky. Hard, but beautiful.
Out in the country the night was dark as the inside of a cow. Heh-heh. That comes not from me, but from naval aviation. Smile. Thanks to Deputy Alias I knew where to go and I easily found the cow. She was north of the county road in a stubble field. She was owly and agitated.
To get her back in I needed to pull staples from a post, push the four barbed wire strands down and nail them low on the post, thereby creating a place where she could step across.
I also needed to keep the situation as low-stress as possible for the cow. She was out looking for her baby, which having been weaned two days previously was not anywhere she could find. But she didn't know that. Then in the midst of her search she'd been bothered by Deputy Alias and his noisy, flashy, unfamiliar patrol pickup. So she'd run away into the stubble field. Her urge was to rejoin the herd, but she was on the wrong side of the fence. And that's why I lowered wires, so she could get back to where she wanted and needed to be.
Before I lowered the wires, in fact just as soon as I espied the cow and triangulated our location, my plan had been to drive her farther north to a place with a gate. Easier for me to open a gate than to fumble with staples and wires in the dark of night. But before I could initiate my brute force plan a calming and more sane thought came to me. The cow is already agitated. Slow down. Be calm. Think of the cow, whose wellbeing is your responsibility. Lower the wires. Do it right.
I doused headlights, got out, and began to pull staples by feel in the darkness of the night. The wires and staples were on the east side of the post, I was on the west. No problem, just a slight challenge. Just reach through the wires. Just do it right.
Staples out, I stepped the wire down and prepared to essay the tricky task of nailing them in place low down, nearly at ground level, where the cow could easily step across them. I would then gently coax her to the right location, using all my low-stress cattle handling skills. She would cross back into the pasture and we'd be done.
But as I stepped the wires down and prepared to nail them in place the cow approached, looked at me, snuffled me and snuffled the low wires, then stepped across into the pasture.
Two things occurred to me. Firstly, it was completely out of character for me to abandon my initial plan of driving the cow a few hundred yards and through a gate. Perfectly good and workable plan and in many ways easier for me. But I chose a different approach, one that placed a bit more emphasis on treating the cow as a living creature to be assisted rather than as a problem to be solved. I placed less emphasis on my own ease and comfort. That's just slightly (completely!) out of character for me.
The second thing was this. It felt very much like Allie was there to help both of us, cow and rancher. How had the cow gone from agitated to calm? I have been doing this stuff for decades and I've never seen such a thing happen. I felt pleased and surprised and happy and reassured, and I felt very strongly that Allie was helping me and helping the cow. Such an Allie thing to do.
Got no idea how this "contact with the departed" stuff works or could possibly work. I know intellectually that it could simply be my hurting brain and soul telling soothing stories. Doesn't feel like that though.
There's a difference between faith and knowledge. I have faith in God and I have faith that Allie walks with me.
I exercised. Shot some videos. They sucked. Good workout.
Now it's time to get back to stuff.
Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.