Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cows and the Chevy Nova

Just through these doors are two milk cows.

I can remember few events from when I was very small.  One is when my 2nd sister was born when I was three, and I remember a trip to the dairy farm my uncle Herb managed near Fresno, California.

My Grandma Foth took me in her green Chevy Nova.   At least, that is the kind of car it was in my memory.  The kind that had 2 doors and a triangle window too high to see out of if you are a pre-schooler in the back.

This is where the story gets a bit gruesome and why it is memorable for me.  I stretched up to see the farm as we pulled in.  Before I saw the milking barn, or a cow, I saw a man carrying a dead, newborn cow.  He walked with it to a pile of more dead baby cows and dropped it.  They were black and white.  We then visited my uncle and saw the milking barn and my memory fades after that for about six years.

In my mind all the colors were clear, the green car, the black and white cow, the color of the dirt road.  I wasn't scared.  I wasn't repulsed.  I think because I was so little, I remember how I feel, and it was more than a feeling.  The world was so big to me, and confusing.  I saw that there is something mysterious about death, and birth, and a farm.  I don't think developmentally I was able to judge the event.  It just was, but it was formative.

As an adult, when I see cows, and surprisingly enough I see them, that day at the beginning of my story has shaped how I think about cows.  I know it is silly.  I have no profound feelings or thoughts about cats, dogs, deer or raccoon, all of which I have seen dead by the roadside.  With cows, I see how nearly soul-less, soft and dim they are, and it touches me.

This summer in the Czech Republic, we went to get milk for the week.  We walked to the edge of town and met a Czech woman, selling milk.  Her milk tasted like milk.  If you buy milk at the grocery store, and that is the only milk you have had, then you do not know what milk tastes like.

The kids enjoyed seeing something new, and the woman was proud to show us her farm.  It was clean and the smell reminded me of the story I just told you.

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