a mooving story

We’re not going to go too deep here – not too much soul searching or navel gazing as to the why’s. It is what it is.

I used to collect cows.

There, I’ve said it. I think I was a collecting type person from the start, but my efforts never really amounted to much. I remember having a stamp collection, but its ragtag bunch of specimens looked more like a discard pile than something resembling a sensible collection. Same with rocks and shells – always an impressive start, but somehow it just seemed like too much work to make a real go of it. When I got older, I started collecting 45s and LPs, but those required some serious money to maintain and grow, and I was sadly lacking. Alas, another modest attempt at collecting, stopped in its tracks.

A little older still, and I’d be at a friend’s house and see their collection of beer bottles or bottle caps or matchbooks or baseball caps, and I’d think, what a great collection; I wish I’d thought of that, but now it’s too late. A collector wannabee.

Then along came cows. The kind of cows that stand around in farmers’ fields eating grass all day. When our family of four – mommy (me), daddy, two young children – moved to New England, we were leaving behind the big city and heading to the country. We were actually moving to a suburban town, but as anyone can tell you in New England, if you want to go somewhere, you’re a half hour away at a minimum. And a lot of those half hours-plus were spent driving through the countryside, with the farmers’ fields, and those cows standing around eating grass all day.

Never let it be said that every moment isn’t a teaching moment. If we go with that thought, you’d understand that whenever the kids were in the back seat and I was in the front, whenever we passed a field of cows, I’d call out “mooooooooo” to the cows. I didn’t even necessarily have to open the window – it’s not like I cared if they heard me – I sure didn’t want them thinking some cow was driving by on the road asking for directions. The first time I did it, it felt innocent enough – teaching the youngsters in the back seat that these were actual cows, which to that point in their lives existed only as pictures in books. The second time I moooooed when we passed a field of cows, we all laughed. By the tenth time, it was a contest as to who could spot the cow and moo first.

The logic that says if I would do that with cows, what about sheep, and horses, and I don’t know, giraffes, and hippopotami, and zebras? I never felt the urge. Not like with the cows. And you can guess the rest.

My cow collection was born. I’m going to jump to the punch line here. I started collecting cows in the early 1990s and I stopped collecting in 2014, when I downsized my life, and the cows didn’t make the cut. But during all that time, I was a housewife with this house and that house and another with bathrooms and kitchens and bedrooms galore, all waiting to be filled with cows. I’m going to share just one from that period. I only recently saw this photo as I was putting together this album. It’s one of my favorite pieces – two cows sitting on a wooden bench – that I picked up in a gift shop on Prince Edward Island, probably an Anne of Green Gables gift shop, and when I saw it, the cows were screaming at me to get them out of there, so into the shopping bag they went. In this particular picture – really, a motif, with the tiny cows grazing below and the white and black cow going to town on the windowsill – there is a ball of tinfoil between the seated cows. That was during my PeeWee Herman stage – remember when every week, he’d patch another piece of tinfoil to his monstrous tinfoil ball? But this isn’t a story about tinfoil, it’s about cows.

It’s only natural that I would want to feed my cow universe with photos from the road. Without further ado then, here’s a sampling. If you’re on your game, you’ll spot straight away that they’re not all cows. Ireland has way better sheep pictures than cow pictures, and once you let the sheep in, you never know what else will weasel its way in.

Who says cows don’t have any fun? Postcard from Holland …

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