Just about three years ago, I was planting corn. It was a damp, drizzly day, which was good, because we needed the rain, but muddy. So I decided to try planting corn a different way than my usual "hoe to cover technique." I dropped the corn seeds in the wet furrow, and then, instead of hoeing them, I took off my shoes and danced in the mud, using my bare feet to cover up the corn. I joked to myself that I might be able to call down a good, soaking rain that way.
Now you have to understand that my house is between two hills, and at the time (we've since acquired a nearer neighbor), the nearest neighbors were at least a quarter mile away. Now during the daytime, our street usually gets about a couple of cars an hour, so generally speaking, I wasn't too worried about being spotted and laughed at.
Well, I must have gotten pretty engrossed in what I was doing, because I was dancing away, and our young dog Rufus was napping underneath the wheelbarrow, when all of a sudden, I looked up, and there were a dozen cows, standing about 5 feet from me, watching me dance.
Now I live in the country, and it is dairy farming territory, so there are cows about, but not usually in my garden. While once in a while someone's cow breaks a fence and blocks traffic for a few minutes (if you ever come to visit, you should know that neither cows nor slow hay trucks respond to horns, so don't even bother ;-), but a dozen cows right next to me are something a bit unusual.
There was a long pause, while the cows and I considered one another. My thought pattern went something like this. "Ummm...something strange...does not compute...are there supposed to be cows here? I wasn't dancing for cows. (I have no idea why I immediately jumped to the mad conclusion that somehow this had something to do with my dancing - proof of insanity, I think.) Hmmm...better find out where they came from..." I have no idea what the cows were thinking, but it was probably rather more lucid than my own thoughts, which included a brief moment of embarassment that the cows had seen me dancing. Why, I have no idea.
Unfortunately, just as I realized I should feed the cows something (other than the basil they were eyeing) and call my dairy farming neighbors to find out which ones were missing some cows, Rufus woke up, and apparently went through a similar, if doggier thought process, approximately "Huh? What the... Cows! Wait a minute, no one said anything about cows here. Must. Bark. Furiously." And the cows rather rapidly disappeared across the road.
I was planting corn yesterday, and thus thinking about my cow dance, and I was briefly tempted to try and use the cows as a metaphor for the weird-seeming things we all are doing in our little efforts to conserve. Thankfully, though, since it would have been awkward and tendentious, I spare you that. Plus, the thing about the cows that was important was that the cows didn't seem at all troubled by what I was doing. It was me who was worried about what things looked like. To the cows, it was just interesting.
I leave to you, then, to take what you might from this story. Perhaps it could be a useful object lesson that the gazes we sometimes worry about are often just curious. Or perhaps a story of magical realism, in which it turns out that we ordinary people do have almost-magical powers to bring things about - but the things we bring about aren't the ones we intend. We dance for rain, and we get cows, and the challenge is to be happy about the cows and put them to use.
Or, perhaps I'm low on blog material today, and this is just a story about a goofy woman, with corn to plant, dancing in the rain, watched by a herd of cows. Who knows?