Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Flying Cow

Ah, rodeo. That timeless experience where grown men in tight jeans show us what they are made of. Leaping off horses at full speed, they wrestle steers to the ground. They ride bucking horses and bulls, risking their lives, their limbs, their ability to father children . . . But nothing can capture the imagination of the multitudes like the age-old sport of cow milking.

My understanding of the history of rodeo is that it evolved from the days when ranchers would get together in the spring, breaking young horses, branding cattle, moving cattle from one feeding ground to another. So theoretically, most of the sports one watches during a rodeo have a relatively strong tie to those cowboying days of yore.

For the life of me, however, I can not grasp the purpose of cow milking. For those unfamiliar with the sport, a cow runs out of a chute, at which point a cowboy on a horse chases her down and ropes her around the neck from horseback and forces the cow to stop running. Now a large guy resembling a football linebacker runs out to the roped cow and pounces on her head, presumably to hold her still. The cowboy on horseback then leaps off of his horse, runs up to the cow, and grabbing an available teet, squirts some milk into a bottle. The clock doesn't stop until the cow is free from the rope and the cowboy has run to the judges to present his bottle of milk.

I will confess I know nothing about cows. Perhaps dairy acquisition is a hurried event. However, I always thought that a rushed cow was a kicking cow.

To illustrate my point, just today a cow in the cow milking event had other plans. Surely her head was filled with pastoral visions of lazily munching hay while her milk is being squirted into a bucket, sans rope around her neck and football linebacker holding onto her head.

She ran from the chute. The cowboy chased her down on his horse. He threw his rope. The loop sailed around her head and shoulders as she jumped through its opening like a circus performer. Feeling the rope tighten around her middle, she conjured every image she ever had of being a peaceful dairy cow, solidifying her dream in her head. The gate loomed close . . . And she leaped. Clearing the five and a half foot gate, she trotted smugly toward her heard. No speed milking today boys, she chuckled to herself. Quietly she started munching hay.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bugging You

Just tonight I was walking Lewis amidst groups of bats flitting two and fro through the dusky night sky. Coming upon the "swimming hole" (euphemism for a slow part in the river, dammed and filled with mosquito larvae), many bats skimmed the surface. Repeatedly they skimmed and circled, skimmed and circled, presumably consuming some kind of gnat hovering just about the still water.

While Lewis fearlessly plunged into the water, bats barely missing him as they swooped by, I kept my distance, covering my mouth and hoping my hair was sufficiently plastered to my head in a such a way as not to snare a bat if one were to swish by my head.

In spite of my half-hearted attempts to protect myself from a bat entering an orifice or getting stuck in my hair, I would not have been surprised had one ran into me. After all, I'm decent sized in comparison to a bat. And there were lots of bats. And though they have their little sonar thing going, they have been known to run into things. This diatribe is leading somewhere, so please only remember this: it would have been understandable if a bat had run into me.

There are other times when I can be walking along on a warm summer evening, and I see a rather large swarm of gnat-like things hovering around in a group. Logic would serve that if I walk into that group of gnats, I may get a gnat on me. I may inhale a gnat. A gnat may go up my nose.

I Walla Walla, when school starts in early fall, these curious bugs with blue fuzz on their butts start to fly all over the place. As a friend of mine once learned during blue-butted bug season: ride your bike in a swarm of blue-butted bugs, spend 20 minutes picking blue-butted bugs off your sweatshirt.

And . . . this is the grand finale. If there is a large group of something and you walk into it, you may physically encounter at least one element of that group. But this is my question of the night. Why, when I am out mowing the lawn, does one single, solitary gnat or little fly or something fly around in front of my face the entire time? Out of the infinity of atmosphere this one bug could inhabit, it chooses to inhabit the two inches in front of my face. For an extended period of time. No matter how much I try to wave it away. Forever will I be confused by this phenomenon.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Beware the Cervidae

Mule Deer Attack

My small town, located precisely in the middle of nowhere, is quite the sanctuary for roving deer. (I also think the deer are aware that one cannot discharge a firearm within city limits, so they take sanctuary. Plus there are an abundance of gardens for them to graze on. Bright little Cervidea). On any given day while walking down the sidewalk, I may either be joined or gawked at by large groups of deer. By large, I mean up to 7-ish. Maybe.

While this is not a number to rival herds of wild horses or the often raved about groups of shaggy buffalo who used to rove across the Montana plains like swarms of locusts, you must remember that I am only one person. Seven deer. One person. Bad odds.

I bring this up because deer on the outside are serene. They munch on grass. They spring around on cute little cloven hooves. They stare at you with doe eyes. . .

Lest anyone be whiled by their charms, please do not forget When Wild Animals Attack. Those pointy little antlers and hooves, once dainty while seen springy across a field, take on a whole new meaning when stuck in your eye.

Don't get me wrong, I do not live in fear of our deer. I like seeing the doe with her babies walk down the sidewalk in front of my house every morning. I just like seeing them from the other side of a locked door.

It's my understanding that male deer, otherwise known as bucks, will attack without provocation, particularly during October-December, their months of rut. 

I do remember walking on a cold fall day around dusk a couple of years ago. There was a small buck in a field, at least a hundred feet away. Stopping to admire his beauty, my mind told me, ah, what a beautiful deer. Look at him standing proudly in that field.

Just then the deer stomped his foot. I got a nervous look in my eye. The deer snorted. I tensed. The deer took a step in my direction. . . . Thinking only of imminent puncture wounds, I fled the scene, and I now have a healthy respect for our deer.