By Shane Cashion
This past weekend our family moved to the country, or at least as far out as one can go and still be counted in the metropolitan census. We’re basically the first subdivision outside of St. Louis. My wife loves animals and the outdoors and I’m still in the throes of a low grade midlife crises, so it seemed like a good idea. An adventure even! I had wanted to move back to Florida or somewhere out West, but my wife’s too close to her family to move out of state, at least not until our kids get a bit older, so we settled on rural St. Louis. Believe it or not, it’s actually very pretty, in a rolling hills sort of way.
Our first day at our new house was like something out of Town & Country magazine. As we climbed up a long, winding road we were surprised to see a small herd of cows grazing under a big shade tree just a few feet off the street. And they weren’t slaughterhouse cows either; they were farm cows, peaceful and content. “Moo cows” my daughter called them. Later that afternoon a deer skittered across our backyard. It was all so perfect – romantic and charming. Even the weather felt better, as though the development in the city had somehow encased the heat and humidity. Out here we could literally feel our lungs expanding.
That night we made margaritas and sat out on our deck, listening to the sounds of nature instead of drunken college kids, police sirens, or the low, steady buzz of the metro system. We hadn’t been outside for more than an hour when we heard our first call of the wild, a lone coyote howling somewhere in the woods behind us. On cue, also far off in the distance, a dog responded to the coyote’s howl.
“Sounds like a bloodhound,” I said to my wife.
“Pretty cool,” she replied, and I could tell that she was enjoying herself. I told her that the first book I ever read was Where The Red Fern Grows. She took my hand and we sat quietly listening to the dog barking for half an hour or so before she broke the silence, “That dog’s still barking.”
“Yep, it’s definitely excited,” I said.
“It sounds distressed.”
“Like it’s tethered.”
I didn’t reply, for fear of so many things.
Yesterday morning, on my way drive back from Starbucks, I noticed a calf grazing on the wrong side of the fence. “The cows were under their tree again,” I said to my wife as I dropped off our Starbucks drinks.
“Awww; they’re so cute.”
“Yeah, I like ‘em too. One got out and was eating next to the road.”
“You mean on the wrong side of the fence?”
“Yep. Guess he felt lucky today.”
“Did you get him?”
“Did you get him?”
“Did I get him?”
“Yeah. Take that Q-Tip out of your ear so you can hear me.”
“It’s a cow. What do you mean did I ‘get him’? How am I gonna ‘get him’?”
“I don’t know. You could shoo him in?”
“I have no idea how to shoo a cow in. I don’t even know if you can. It’s not like a cat.”
“Well did you at least tell the owner?”
“How would I do that? I don’t even know who the owner is. And I’d have to climb over a barbed wire fence and hike who knows how far before I ever came to a barn or a house. The last thing I need is some hillbilly popping out of his barn with a shotgun because I trespassed on his property. Plus I have no idea what a pack of angry cows would do if they saw me climbing their fence.” With that, my wife walked out of the room, a look of disappointment stretching across her face, as though she’d been duped into believing that she’d married a shepherd.
The guy from Direct TV is coming later this afternoon to hook up our TVs. It’s a relief because now we won’t have to sit outside and listen to animals in distress or grieve over renegade cows. Thanks to high definition television and all the wonderful reality shows that place the viewer right in the heart of the action, we can watch nature as it was intended to be watched, through a crystal clear television screen.