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The Story of the Boy and the Cow

by: Leonard Oliver Nasman
copyright 1994

cowboyOnce upon a time there was a boy and a cow. But, as you will see, the boy was not a cowboy. Also, the cow was not exactly a boy cow. It was a steer. A rather young steer. You might wonder why anyone would call it a steer since, as you will see, it would not steer worth a darn. Because the not really a boy cow was young, some might call it a heifer. Because it appeared to be quite large for its age, some might call it a hefty heifer. Considering its behavior, if you were Mexican, you might call it hefe the hefty heifer.

But I digress.

woodhavenThe story takes place in a magical land called Woodhaven. This land is full of wonderful things. The boy loved to wander around the land and observe magic and miracles that were always taking place in this magical kingdom. Every day, magical changes took place that made Woodhaven seem to be a completely different place. This magic was carefully observed by the boy who was not a cowboy.

Actually, the boy was not exactly a boy. He mostly thought of himself as a boy. Except whenever he happened to look in a mirror, or tried to run like a deer, or stepped on a scale, or slipped on a snail, or lifted a pail, or when he did any of a thousand things that were now done differently from when he really was a boy. Whenever he would do these things, or even think of doing these things, he would say “oy..., I am no longer a boy!.”

crownActually, the boy who was not really a boy was the King of the land called Woodhaven. Well, at least he thought he was King. Or at least Lord of the Land. Or at least the guy who paid the taxes on the land. But I digress.

flowersEvery day the magic land called Woodhaven proudly exhibited its magic. One day in the Spring the ground would be covered with cold dead leaves. The next day it would be covered with beautiful flowers. Brown grass would be covered with white snow, and when the snow melted the grass would be green. Every flower, plant, and tree was different from the next, and every day was different from the day before.

tangerAmazing creatures lived in this magic land. If you looked closely at the birds of Woodhaven, you would observe feathers of every different color imaginable, and many colors that you could not possibly imagine. Red feathers on cardinals, and tanagers, and woodpeckers. Orange feathers on robins, and flickers, and yellow on finches and warblers, and green on the parrots (actually, there are no parrots at Woodhaven and the Carolina Parakeets that once lived here have been extinct for a hundred years, but you can imagine them can’t you?). Green on the wood ducks, and teals, and mallards, and blue on the blue jays, and blue birds, and buntings, and violet on mourning doves. And colors on the tiny humming birds that you could never have invented if you spent a hundred or thousand years at the job. Green on the back and gray on the breast, and black on the throat until the tiny head was turned and it blossomed into bright ruby, iridescent in the sun.

deerAnd more and more amazing creatures. Some with fur on their backs, or scales on their tails. Some creatures that built their own homes out of sticks and mud and others that carried their homes on their backs. Some with flat tails or tails that taper, and some with wings that are thinner than paper. Critters that climb, or run, or jump. Some that fly, or swim, or thump. Some that crawl, or waddle, or slither. Some that glide as they go yon and hither.

cloudsMorning skies, evening skies, skies of blue, or gray, or pink. Mellow clouds, yellow clouds, cotton clouds that tower. Loud clouds, wonder clouds, thunder clouds of power.

But I digress.

cowOne fine day the boy (who was not really a boy) and his wife (one of the signs that he was not really a boy) went for a walk down Dogwood Lane. All of the sudden, right on the edge of the path, was this large, munching, short-horned, hoofed, heifer (that was not really a boy cow).

“What is the cow doing here?” said the wife.

“Who do you suppose belongs to the cow?” said the boy who thought himself to be King of the land.

“It must belong to a neighbor.” said the wife.

“We must catch it and hold it until its owner is discovered.” said the boy who was not a cowboy. “You watch where it goes, and I will run back to the house and get a rope.”

The boy ran like a deer back to the house (or would have run like a deer if he would have really been a boy) and got a rope. Not just any rope. Not just a piece of twine or any old clothes line. He got the authentic used official Colorado ranch rope given to his son many years ago by a kindly old English teacher who spent many delightful summers living on a ranch. This rope was stiff and strong. It had actual cow catching experience. It spent many a day flying through the air, the noose precisely circling a cows neck, tightening just right. The real rope-tossing cowboy twisting the rope around the saddle horn, his powerful cow pony pulling stubborn cows back to where they were supposed to be. Yes, this was just the rope for the job.

cowboyropeThe boy hurried like an older deer back down the trail to meet his wife and the cow. There they were. All he had to do was to get close enough to make the capture. He approached cautiously. The cow moved out of reach of the rope. Each time he moved in, the cow moved out. Finally, the cow moved through the corn field, and across the neighbor’s yard. Not the neighbor who cuts his grass once a month whether it needs it or not. The other neighbor. The retired fellow who cuts his grass twice a week whether it needs it or not. The one who has the tomatoes growing neatly in pails to keep the cut worms away. The one who has potatoes lined up beside the beans and peonies that stand like soldiers on inspection. That’s the yard the cow lead the boy through. It was good that that neighbor had gone to town.

deerAfter a while the cow headed for the woods beyond the golf-green like yard and the boy got tired of the game. The boy who would be King headed back toward his palace. The cow followed. The boy who was not a cowboy moved in on the cow again. The cow disappeared into the tall corn. The boy got into his carriage and visited other local Lords of the area to see if he could find out who belonged to the cow, but no one knew. The neighbor across the street wasn’t home. The boy did have some nice visits, and caught up some on the local gossip.

cow1Later, the cow paid a visit to the palace grounds. Right there under the apple tree. Walked right through the front yard, crossed the road, and stood beside the tall corn. The boy who was not a cowboy approached carefully. Experienced rope at the ready. The rope with a loop carefully formed, circling around, precisely thrown over the cow's head, and quickly tightened around the surprised cow's neck. The cow suddenly grew from a friendly looking heifer to a fire snorting monster. In this place full of daily miracles, the horns grew several inches while the rope was encircling them. The cow that was not a boy cow, pulled on the rope but the boy that was not a cowboy held his ground. He dug in his heels. The cow dug in its hoofs. There was no saddle horn to wrap the rope around. No strong experienced cow pony to pull on the rope. Only an experienced official Colorado cowboy lasso rope stretched tight between the cow and the boy. On one end of the rope was a boy who suspected that he might never become a cowboy. On the other end of the rope was a thousand pounds of angry meat loaf. It was a cow-boy stand-off.

cow3The boy thought that if he could get the cow across the road, he could tie the rope to a fence post until the owner was determined, or until a friendly butcher could be located. The wife of the boy who now was beginning to suspect that he was not really a cowboy worried about cars coming along the road and causing a problem. The boy hoped that a real cowboy with a strong cow pony would come along. Or at least that a car would come along the road carrying big fellows with strong muscles. A car appeared. The wife hurried up to the window of the car to request help. The two seventy year old ladies in the car offered to do what they could to help. The offer was declined. Another car approached. An eighty year old lady was driving. Her husband offered to help. He was also eighty. He walked around the back of the cow to shoo it over to the fence post where it could be tied. The cow objected to this idea by moving in the other direction. Very quickly.

It occurred to the boy that this was an opportunity to demonstrate to the audience of senior citizens how they make those movie scenes where the hero is whisked across the landscape on his belly while being dragged by a runaway horse (or cow). But suddenly another one of those unexplainable magic Woodhaven changes occurred. The boy instantly aged thirty years, obtained a flash of instant wisdom, and let go of the rope. The cow trotted away acting as proud as a yuppie jogger wearing a pink and chartreuse spandex running outfit.

Later, it was determined that the cow belonged to the neighbor across the road. The recently older boy and his neighbor were nice enough to let the cow enjoy the pleasant summer evening by playing games like tag and hide and seek with it for a few hours until it was too dark to play.

The next day, the cow came back to the palace grounds. The cow acted like a pig in the corn field for a while, and seemed proud of the official Colorado lasso necklace it was wearing. The man who was not a cowboy got out another rope. This was not an official cow catching rope. It was a half inch thick hundred foot long braided nylon rope which had one end fastened to the apple tree. But the cow didn’t want to play anymore. It wandered across the corn field, and disappeared into the woods. The next week the neighbor gave a report. The cow came back one day and munched on some feed in his yard. The next day it moved back into the cow pen where it now lives happily waiting for the time it will become elevated to the status of hamburger.

The man who is not a cowboy has returned to wandering through his kingdom, marveling at the magic there is to be observed at Woodhaven.

The End


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