Friday, 10 August 2012
By Lyn Burnstine
On my grandmother’s farm in southern Illinois, there lived a sweet-faced Jersey cow named Pet, the first of a long string of bovines, all her progeny, who supplied us with meat, butter, cream, cottage cheese and supplementary income for years to come.
But in her first few years with us, she supplied me with something else: companionship!
My swing was on the limb of a large oak tree in the pasture. Pet so wanted to be near me that I’d have to shove on her big soft side to move her out of the way.
When I was tired and hot from roaming the woods and meadows, I’d lie down under that shade tree with Pet, pillowing my head on that same soft side. I felt no fear although as a farm child, I knew enough to avoid her back legs and tail so as not to get kicked, stepped on or swished painfully in the face.
One day as I walked back to the house from the pasture, I heard something behind me. Turning, I saw Pet following me. I thought that she was chasing me and I panicked.
I began to run. Pet began to run. I ran faster. Pet ran faster. In my confusion over what I interpreted as “the chase,” I could almost see the steam coming out of her nostrils as she turned into the dreaded ferocious bull of my recurring nightmares.
I ran screaming to the high wooden fence separating lawn from pasture, scrambled over it in a burst of strength and agility and fell sobbing into my mother’s arms. It didn’t help to have her say, “Pet just wanted to walk with you, honey. She thinks she’s your dog.”
That day marked the end of a kind of innocence and trust. I never got over my fear of large animals that could chase me - even if it was only in my mind or my dreams.
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