I am walking under a coalescing sky, in my commissioned role as Weed Inspector. A long polygon of pasture under a low-slung sun awaits, like a veranda, and I walk, a slow easy-chair walk.
On this morning I am with two other inspectors. One is a tall blond woman, one-third my age, whose life is studded by drama, whose fingernails are glittering lancet statuettes, whose interest and discipline of study is land reclamation.
The other young woman, effervescent and bright as a bloom, likes rodeo, likes horses, wins barrel racing contests, while earning an environmental science degree. We split off to our separate tracts, and to our solitudes.
Tall buttercup is the order of this fragrant day. They are bolting into a sulphur yellow, aiding and abetting the marsh marigolds, like some back-room-deal in yellow—June, toppling late May’s green monopoly.
Cocooned by the day, happy to be tied to the earth, my eyes scan, watch for the pip on the sweeping green line in the mind’s oscilloscope.
My head down, I am late to notice that I’ve moved close to a small herd of cows—blacks and blonds, Angus and Aquitaine—some with calves.
Years ago I read of a man trampled by cows. He had been walking his dog on a well trodden trail used by Ramblers, near Bradford-on-Avon (somewhere in the Cotswolds), when he was stampeded to his end.
I was not thinking of this event as I walked, content, with a head full of commingling greens and yellows. Neither did it come to mind when, all at once, one rogue heifer, joined by others, came hurtling at me.
Neither did I think of the philosophy of Zeno, who I suspect went through his life never once being chased by cows, leaving his notion that motion and change are illusory, unchallenged.
Furthermore, when bulging oyster-white eyes, black coiling tongues, wet muzzles, shiny as buffed brass, swing close into view, you do not speculate upon the secondary properties of colour.
And you do not lope down the gentle hill, singing, “I am being chased by a Blonde d’Aquitaine,” and think how exotic it all sounds.
No. You run. Flat out. For the fence.
I’ve found that there is a deer-fleet moment when you no longer make decisions, rather, your body makes announcements: this body, having judged its speed deficient to cover the span to the fence line, stopped, displaced itself against the pull of reason, leaving the mind to its useless trajectory, now ran with its substance, waving and shouting, straight at the lead cow.
As a strategy I can’t recommend it, only because there was nothing in it resembling strategy. As it happened (leaving me free to tell the story) the cows veered off with feet to spare, avoiding a collision with this mad and mindless human (apparently a carrier of mad-human disease).
Just that morning, driving down a tree-lined gravel road I thought how fine to stamp my own impression on each passing day, how lovely to commingle, even within this unlikely company, my own colours.
But this is not the case with life. As always—as if I needed the reminder—it is the events of the day that make their impressions upon you.