The Cowless Summer

When I first drove up this road fifteen years ago, it was dark. I had driven all day from Virginia to what was to be my new home in rural Tennessee, where I had never been before; and the rudimentary directions I had directed me up this gravel drive. It was very dark… and there were cows.
There were cows standing around in this alleged “road” on the middle of a fairly steep hillside, looking rather annoyed at the large grey non-ruminant with the glaring headlights. The word “shotgun” floated across my mind as I negotiated my way through them, and then an open gate to a dilapidated old cabin, glad I had not actually seen all of “Deliverance.” There were no Banjos, but I was rather hesitant to ask if anyone knew where “Sunfrog” lived.
As luck would have it, this was exactly where he lived.
I did too for several years before moving a half mile down the road to my current home.
Since then, I walked up and down this road countless times, and was always greeted with the same casual indifference by my bovine neighbors.
It was somewhat comforting to know that there was no crime I could commit in the outside world so heinous that I would be regarded as anything but a moving object that is not a cow or a car or a dog here. It was a very peaceful anonymity. Pastoral, even.
But now the cows are gone, as are the goats that also roamed the hillsides. The old man that owned them had become too unwell to live in his decrepit little farmhouse by himself anymore. He spent some time in the hospital, and was put in a nursing home. The livestock was sold off, and the big shaggy Pyrenees dog that watched the goats wandered up the road, found a cozy place to rest, and died there.
You could probably write the saddest country song ever about this, but I really hope you won’t.
This is the first time I have seen this land with no cows or goats on it, and it looks so happy.
The wildflowers have run rampant and carpeted the hillsides with yellow and purple, where before there was barely even any green left this late in the year.
If I had my way, it would remain like this~ running its wild course, going to brush and bramble, and eventually forest.
The old man would hate that. Folks around here like their land “cleaned off.”
Nobody ever bothers to ask the land what it wants.
It has been auctioned off now, and I don’t know what will happen to it next summer, so I am going to enjoy it all I can for now.

This entry was posted in dismalia, flora, ruminations. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Cowless Summer

  1. peggy says:

    That looks like a good place to ramble, where you are. Nice photos, too.

    Folks where I live like their land “cleaned off” too. When I first bought property here in Indiana, it was a cabin on four acres, much of which had been “cleaned off.” Soon there was a big development going in up the road, with an entire section of forest getting similarly cleaned off. It filled me with much grief. I don’t know if I would have bought the cabin had that carnage already begun.

    I let the acreage around my cabin (which now belongs to my ex) go back to forest. It’s ten years old now. Ex has left it alone. It was the least I could do.

    Good luck with your new neighbors.

  2. Todd Lorenz says:

    Very nice, sir. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>