Hello again Maple People,
All the bad news from around the world gives me an even greater appreciation for living here in Vermont. And, yes, I’ll even factor in cold, deep snow, and deep mud ruts which are our current highway and byway nemesis while doing the little driving we are allowed. Vermont is my homeland…I was born and bred here and, b’gory, love it clear to its ornery bedrock. That appreciation for our beloved Green Mountains hit home particularly last week when I was making one of my daily treks down to the pasture water hole to chop the ice so our small herd of beef cows could drink.
It was a typical sunny but very crisp March morning. I drove over to our barn, grabbed an axe, and climbed over the fence. Not wanting to wallow in snow at my age, I met the cows at their circular hay feeder and headed toward the water hole via their snow-trodden cow path. Following a cow path across an expanse of land brought back memories from my youth when my sister Susie and I tromped over this same ground to fetch the cows for their evening milking. Back then the path was worn into green turf but wherever cows go and at whatever time of year, they always go single file and leave a bovine highway…a thoroughfare well known and beautiful to me!
On that cold day, I passed the “girls and boys” busily eating their breakfast and headed toward the ice covered water hole. I had only gotten a couple hundred feet in my journey when I sensed a presence behind me. Looking back made me jump a bit because there was Ferdie the bull literally breathing his sour breath down my neck! After him, like dutiful soldiers, marched the rest of the our herd…hip, hip, hip…almost like they knew what I was up to. The ice had built up considerable thickness overnight and required a lot of chopping. But even after I finished opening up plenty of cold, clear water though, none of the bovines drank. They had just followed me for the sake of a nice morning stroll!
When I headed back, sure enough, my rag-tag crew followed right along. We trudged slowly through this bright, crystalline world. The Berlin hills loomed beyond our waiting sugarbush to the south while the sun shouted “Good morning!” in the east. It was the perfect way to start a winter morning for eight of God’s creatures, seven of the bovine variety and one aging man. And that, my friends, describes a peak experience in Vermont, a place where life always follows the “slow lane”.