Pouring soymilk on my cereal this morning, I slid down a wormhole back to my grandparent’s farm.
The wormhole went like this: Soymilk container with fields of green soybean plants depicted on the front –> I like cows, but I suspect that manure (quick sidetrip to a particular cowpaddy I admired) creates more greenhouse gas than soybeans —> Does this affect dairy farmers, which many of my grandparent’s friends were (quick flash of Grandpa Dewey squirting milk from udder into cat’s mouth —> hint of anxiety: did this actually happened to me or did I see it in a movie?) —> now I am 5 and walking down the dirt path from the house to the barn.
On the right is a wooden-slat fence. The wood is moist and the sunlight is curved – early morning or near twilight, sunlight resonant with dusk or shadow. I’m walking towards the barn, and the ranks of calves poke their heads over the fence – random milling movement, smell of cow. I approach them, and they clobber off in their soft scattery way, animals ten times bigger than me behind a fence. But one stays.
One .. stays.
Big brown eyes. The same big cliched cow eyes every cow has – but different. No, not different – the same thing responding differently. Every other calves’ eye shifts quickly, rushed milling away from the hand I stretch out — but one. One looks straight at me, no scattering, no shifting. It seems we look at each other. Lean towards each other. I reach out and I touch its nose. That’s all.
Why is one calf unafraid? Or simply acts unafraid? What is missing – or present – that makes this connection possible? Though it’s impossible in every other instance of the same thing?
One cow stays with me. The others scatter.
And now, the wormhole closes, and my cereal’s ready to eat.
But later, writing this, I felt nervous to lose the memory. At first, the sense of image and atmosphere was so strong, but tenuous – like the smell of perfume – like it could dissipate or burst-and-disappear if I described it.
Do I risk losing the unique dimension of experience by molding it into words? I’ve noticed that before – that words leech the particularness from experience, at least for awhile – remold the experiential thumbprint, like making a logo out of a signature.
But as I wrote, I moved back towards the moment again, and in the end, I could touch it. My one cow.