Thursday, November 11, 2004

Baby Cows And Other Fragile Lives 

Have you apologized to a cow yet?

At 28 months, Willow is a towheaded master of the universe. Today again she came to visit in the last few moment of a long hard workday, and while her mother checked email in my now-forsaken sanctuary pulled me defiantly out of the office, towards the swinging halfdoors of the circulation area and "the baby animal books, Daddy." So, "tell me the story, Willow. What's happening here? What is the bunny doing? Look, who's that there?" -- call and response, and a gleeful, snuggly kid at the end of the day. So wonderful to read to one's daughter in public, and proudly model to those few straggling end of day students and faculty what good parenting feels like, and hopefully looks like as well.

On the way home we stopped at the farm to watch the three small calves just weaned low softly in their tenor voices, and chase each other around their small corrall and then suddenly stop again, a bovine game of statues. Willow ducks her head under the coarse wooden slatted fence and calls them -- "here, cow! Cow! Come here!" -- until, shaking on their still-new legs, they creep up to lick her fingers. She's proud to have patted them; wants to know what that chicken is doing on the sloped wood against the roosting house, why we can't eat the cider apples off the truck, organized by color, and probably by type, why the barn has giant double doors, where the cat is that lives in the hayloft, why we can't climb up to look for it -- does it miss its mommy, too?

Though she still needs help to pee, especially in the dining hall, where those terrifying autoflush toilets are prone to missread the gutsqueezing of her tiny body as a signal that it's time to suck water hard enough to make her jump. With one hand on the light sensor, then, and the other sturdy on her naked knee, we find ourselves one of those fathers whose calming, cheerful voices float from behind the stalls of public restrooms, explaining urinals in oversimplified language to those who will never need to use them -- something no one ever wanted to be, surely, but something worth celebrating nonetheless.

posted by boyhowdy | 7:59 PM |

This was beautiful, I stayed way longer than my 30 seconds, even though I have you bookmarked, just to read it a second time. :)

Thanks for sharing. Cows are way cool. So gentle, so friendly, so beautiful. No wonder they are sacred in India.
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