Who would have thought on that balmy spring afternoon that I, a city girl, would face a herd of carnivores with malicious intent? Well, maybe not carnivores, but malicious for certain. Married for three months, we lived in a sixty-year old farmhouse. I learned about well water, septic tanks and howling coyotes that long, cold winter. Still, there was one more lesson country living had to share.
We had a lane that led to a state highway. And we had cows. My husband taught me to say “Haw.” He said the cows would back up and leave me alone if I yelled it like I meant it. I didn’t think practice was necessary.
I tied on my running shoes and sprinted out the front door like a bird dog out of her kennel. About fifty yards from the cattle guard three cows munched fresh grass bordering the winter wheat. Who knew what went on in a cow’s brain? It didn’t hurt to be cautious.
I slowed my pace as several more gathered. They moved like a military unit, slow, but undeterred, toward me. Two appeared from under the willow tree. Then, by silent command, they ran. Not just in my direction. Each nostril flared as the whole herd thundered toward me and my Nike’s.
“Haw, haw!” I squeaked.
They galloped with the speed of wild mustangs. My “haw, haw” became a breathless “Ahhhh!” Undaunted, they chased me like I was lunch.
I ran like a Missouri wind gust, with my eyes focused on the nearest cattle guard. One final leap brought me to the other side of its protection, heart pounding, gasping for breath and legs shaking. The cows stood, looking with even gaze, their evil scheme thwarted.
Once over the cattle guard, I remembered an important point. The house was on the other side. Our gravel lane stretched out a hundred yards before me. Cars whizzed by on the highway at the end. My husband was gone. He wouldn’t be home for hours. The cows stood, smirking.
“Look, you bullies. Back off. I may look helpless, but don’t let my timid exterior deceive you. I am hell on wheels when it comes to danger,” I said.
Squaring my shoulders, I considered walking back through that menacing crowd. But, no. I looked at them. They looked at me. I walked to the end of the lane, too tired to break into a jog. My heart still pounded. Strength had run out in a gush of adrenalin and said good-bye for the duration.
I was a chicken. No way around it. But chicken it was, because I had no intention of passing through that herd with just me and my tennies. Instead, I sat on the gravel, feeling its sharp stones press against my tired behind. It was hot. I was thirsty, then hungry. All the comforts of home, now denied, screamed for my attention.
A gold Toyota Camry pulled into the lane. My sister. My sister who lived in a neighboring town, appeared for no apparent reason. Except to save me. I stood up, waving my hands in something between a wild welcome and victory salute. The cavalry had come.
Climbing into the front seat, I closed the door with a firm grip. We headed back through the cows. They parted as the gold chariot charged forward. Now it was my time to smirk.
Not a chicken anymore, I had been rescued by a force stronger than a pack of carnivores. I felt like a conquering hero as I stuck my head out the window waved at the cows. I remembered a quote by Jarod Kintz. “Fight or flight? If I had wings, there’d be no choice. But since I don’t have wings, I have to rely on my cape, and a long running start.”
In the years to come I’d face many dangers. This time I learned that a cape and a running start had nothing on a gold Toyota Camry plowing through the middle of pack of Missouri cattle. Those Nike’s and I sat victorious, if only for a moment, in the sweetness of a ride home.