We sold the calves Tuesday at the Waverly Sale Barn. When we got home and opened the gate to the feeding area the cows didn’t file in like usual. They just stood there and looked at me. They knew their babies were gone.
It’s an odd sort of thing, raising livestock. They come and go pretty fast. Some of them have names, the ones who stand out as different: Wobbly, The Lone Ranger, Nudge, … We love them, then we eat them. It’s a weird way to honor their lives. What a disgrace it would be to bury them in the ground.
We’ve had a rash of humans passing on lately too. One said he was gonna vote for Jesse Jackson. I immediately loved the guy even though the vote was wrong. He spoke. It’s funny how we value these people on such an intimate level when, with a little thought, we realize their uniqueness was common all over the world. No matter how hard we try, when they are gone we find them to be better people than our appreciation would indicate as we went through life together.
As we drove to Waverly on the icy road, we were grateful for the state. The highway was not slippery. It could have been pretty scary but the main danger was oncoming traffic with distracted drivers. I presume that it might be presumptuous of me but I appreciate the highways more than most people. To think that this vast expanse of garden soil that turns bottomless when wet can be traversed at 78 miles per hour, we can hear the radio, and there’s no chance of getting stuck. It’s truly a miraculous feat of cooperation.
I’m a simple man. I get a big thrill out of flashing my lights as a signal that a passing truck has room to return to the right lane. That’s punctuated by the truck’s tail lights doing the same as a howdy and thanks for the help, like a handshake. To me the interstate is a community. I wave when I pass. When no one glances back I feel like I’m back in the city. I’d rather someone else eat our animals. Is that mean?
When our son moved to California and we went to visit, we found he had transformed his street. People who didn’t speak English looked up from their flowerbed and smiled broadly. Maybe like they were back home in their neighborhood in Laos.
Our block in Santa Monica was like that when I was a kid. We played football on Charlie Langmuir’s lawn and got tackled onto the little hedge. It always seemed to come back. Mike White threw a bullet pass to me. I was a dork and trying to beat that image, I caught it. It knocked the wind out of me for, forever. But I’m fine now.
I bet if I was in Santa Monica today I’d look around in wonder, like Jed Clampett. Just arrived in an old truck piled high with a rocking chair on top, I’d ask, “Where’s a good latte?” And some stranger would say, “Come over to our house. Charlie Musselwhite and Eric Clapner are coming over to jam and Charlie’s wife, Henri makes a great latte.”
I’d sure like it if these people would eat our animals.