Fences and dreams
June 15, 2009
“Tommy, get your clothes on. The neighbor’s cattle are in the corn, and they’re going to trample the tomatoes too … hurry now!”
Not the best way a young boy could be awakened from a deep sleep, especially when he’s dreaming about scoring the winning shot on the junior high basketball team as the whole gym erupts with, “Tom, Tom, he’s our man; if he can’t do it, nobody can!”
It was early morning, and it must have been the start of summer because the two or three acres of sweet corn Dad had planted were only a couple of inches tall. There I was, living this dream of being carried off the floor on my teammates’ shoulders and Dad wanted me to chase some stupid ole cow out of the corn. Why me?
These mutterings were better kept to myself, because when Dad spoke, you listened. You know how it is? One of those “requests” that your father “asks” you to do. Besides, last year Dad had let my sisters and me sell the excess sweet corn at a vegetable stand over at the Longmont Sales Yard. We got to keep the money, and a little cow chasing was a whole lot easier than cow milking. That was normally Dad’s duty, but something the rest of the family inherited if he was out of town for a day or two.
Here it is, 30-odd years later, and I woke up this morning thinking about the neighbor’s cow in our field. I’m back at the old homestead now, having traded for a place in town with Mom a few years ago after Dad died. The 15 acres of sand burrs and tumbleweeds Mom and Dad had bargained to buy with Mr. Plog in the early ’50s has dwindled to 5 acres through real estate transactions with friends and relatives. The hundreds of trees that Dad planted years ago are in need of trimming. Yes, hundreds of trees – Dad was from the hills of Oklahoma, and the prairies of Colorado needed a little shade, according to him.
The corn field is now covered with rye about 2 feet high, just something to keep the sand from blowing, except for a small garden in the corner … oh, and that double row of starter trees that we planted in early spring … must be about 200 of them … nothing like a little shade.
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Got a new neighbor now, and I wish he would mend his fence. As I weed my garden, I watch his cow strain to reach the rye on my side, and only wish I could hear Daddy say, “Tommy, the neighbor’s cow is in the corn!