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Stepping on Cows

This morning, during Jensen’s requisite 20 minute soak, I sat beside the tub so that we could discuss topics that are important to a 4 year old.

Eventually the conversation turned morbid, and Jensen began discussing his fear of birds.  A fear I was unaware of.  “Why are you afraid of birds?” I asked, taking a mental note to quiz the sisters to see if they had planted the idea in his head.

“I don’t like ‘em because they will bite me.”

(Amen brother.  And you haven’t even had the pleasure of seeing “The Birds” yet.)

“Well.  Birds do more pecking than biting.” And I resisted the urge to scream, “MY EYES, MY EYES.”

Drat that Alfred Hitchcock.  Drat him all to heck.

“Mommy, did you know that dogs bite you?”

“Yes indeed.  And that’s why we never walk up to strange dogs to pet them.”

Cujo.  I’m just sayin’.

He was quiet for a moment.  “For sure cows will bite you.”

Thank goodness.  Cows are safe.  “Well.  Cows don’t really bite, they chew.  And mostly grass, not little boys.”

He drew up his chest real big and announced. “IF A COW EVER BIT ME, I’D STEP ON HIM.”

And just then my mind wandered, as it is apt to do early in the morning.  Without the benefit of caffeine.

A little over 20 years ago, I packed up my silver Honda CRX with all of my worldly possessions, plus one very angry cat, and moved from Texas to Los Angeles.

My grandparents farm was 90 miles west of Dallas, in a little town called Mineral Wells.  I stopped there for the night before setting out on my journey.

I had spent many many summers on that farm when I was growing up, and in a moment of nostalgia, I told my Nanny that I wanted to go walk the fields in the early evening.

The same fields that I had walked many times with my Pa before he died.

I felt as though I was standing on the edge of a great precipice.  About to step out into the great unknown, yet my feet longed to traipse through familiar soil.

One more time.

I carried a large stick with me, something my Pa always did in case we came across a snake.

In the interest of full disclosure, had I come across a snake, I likely would have impaled myself on that stick as I fell to the ground waiting for death to take me swiftly from heart failure.

I skipped along a well worn path, and spied a large rock just ahead.  Funny.  I didn’t remember that being there.  I dropped my stick and made a mad dash toward the rock, ready to leap up on it.  Just as I reached the deceiving stone, I stopped short due to the most horrendous stench that had ever greeted my olfactory senses.

Why that wasn’t a rock at all.  That, my friends, was a dead cow.

I turned and sprinted a football field length toward the farmhouse.  Breaking some sort of olympic record, to be sure.

Once safely inside, I used my Nanny’s rotary dial phone to call the old farmer who leased the pasture to tell him to come get his stinky old dead cow.


I was jolted back to the bathroom step stool.

“I wouldn’t step on it if I were you.  Stinkin’ cows,” I muttered.

And with that, I headed toward the coffee pot just 10 feet away.  Leaving my son to giggle while repeating “stinkin’ cows” ad nauseum.

At that moment I began to rethink the decision to serve hamburgers for dinner.


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