Mad human chased by cows


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.


  1. I have chased some cows in my time but it would never have occurred to me to chase them back if they started chasing me. But the visualisation in your story is wonderful! Thanks.

  2. Glad you are OK ! Would a can of noise, or a bell, fit in your backpack? There may be other creatures lurking !

  3. I was getting lost in the colours and aromas, then you were chasing cows. The image is hilarious, – yes… glad you survived.

  4. Like Joanne, I got lost in the language of beauty leading up to the chase. I wish I’d have been close-by with a video camera for the finale!

  5. Very, very grateful to savor the humor of this humanoid with arms waving menacingly and eyes glaring dangerously “safely” parting the black bovine sea by being a carrier of mad-human disease.

  6. Steve, you peaceful, gentle soul…I simply cannot conjure up this version of you… but the attempt is amusing.

  7. I simply can’t imagine a “tall blond woman…whose fingernails are glittering lancet statuettes” being interested in land reclamation. Yikes! Whatever do her reclaimed places look like?

    So refreshing to read the word “polygon” associated with a long stretch of pasture instead of elements on a GIS map. My students are in the field many days a week, caught up with the technology to measure and record, forgetting to stand in awe of the beauty and miracle of the restoration site where we work.

    As Joanne notes, the reader is caught up in the beauty of the place you describe, albeit still thinking about those ridiculous fingernails, when the cows charge. While I am quite sure you weren’t laughing at the time, your description here is hysterical — because you survived to talk about Blonde d’Aquitaine and quip about being a carrier of mad-human disease. I so admire good storytelling.

  8. Thanks for your lovely response Diane. Oh, and I need to tell you that despite the young lady’s fashionable nails, her passion for land reclamation is quite inspiring. Thanks again!

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