The first time Derek visited my family’s farm, the consummate city boy found a world very much unlike any he had ever seen before—at least in person. Even Mom remembers well her own surprise when he mentioned he’d never been on a dirt road prior to visiting our East Texas refuge. This fact shocked all of us. It also tickled us because the farm rests in the middle of nowhere, so dirt roads are more than common in the area.
Another thing that surprised us was his lack of experience with animals other than dogs and cats… and possibly birds. He’d never been around anything larger than a German shepherd. Boy, was he in for a surprise.
My parents and I guided him out of the house and to one of the pastures where some of the cows were milling about in late morning sunshine. Derek was fascinated by the large beasts. That wonder grew as they came to the fence to greet us. Unfortunately, he was intimidated by the bovines and, although he stood near the fence, he would neither touch the cows nor allow them to touch him. The poor New Yorker… Frightened of a cow and unable to overcome his sheltered life.
Oh how we laughed! His wide eyes and childlike gaze were fixed on those cows, especially the one that came right up to the fence where he stood, yet he couldn’t find the strength of will to reach out.
Over the years that followed, he slowly grew more sure of himself around the farm. That doesn’t mean he completely won the battle with his own apprehension; he did make progress, though.
In posthumous remembrance of his 40th birthday today, more than two years after his death, I present to you Derek’s first visit to a farm—and his first encounter with a cow. This is as close as he would get to it despite our prodding him with tales of woe about how much the cow wanted to be petted.
Happy birthday, Derek. And don’t worry. We’ll pet the cows for you.
[picture via Mom]