To entertain my visiting grandsons one afternoon, I put out paper and pencils and some old crayons that came with a restaurant kiddy meal. But the youngest grandson (three years old) would have none of that. He wanted the big box of crayons from the high shelf where I keep my art supplies. I can’t remember where I got them, but I know I was excited when I bought this set of ninety-six Crayola crayons. They’re still in pristine condition. They reside neatly and sharply in their tiered rows – the way I long for them to stay.
But I can’t resist this little guy, so I gave him the box. At first he took out one at a time, drew a few lines, then tried to put them back. This soon gave way to an indiscriminate and disorderly adventure with first the crayons and then the little holders that keep them separated. Before I knew it the table was covered with crayons, and I was suddenly reminded of the cows.
Milk production was the main industry on the farm, and much of the daily activity was geared toward keeping the cows happy. My grandparents owned black and white cows called Holsteins and a few brown and white ones and milked them twice a day in the early morning and the late afternoon. As I helped my grandson color little circles on the paper, I wondered how a cow would look with colored spots.
I remember the work it took to herd the cows from field to lane and into and out of the barn at milking time. When the cows had been pastured across the street from the barn, all available help (sometimes even small children) lined Whirlwind Hill Road brandishing sticks to keep the cows from wandering up the hill, down the driveway, or into the front yard of the farmhouse. My grandfather’s gentle voice nudged them along as he tapped their rear ends with his stick and crooned, “Cow-boss. Cow-boss. Cow-boss.”
With furrowed brow and loud voice I herd my grandsons with, “Come on kids. Come on kids. Come on kids.” Keeping my mind on the past when I’m with grandchildren is a challenge. I love being with them, and when I am, all my thoughts are in the present, and all my cows are in color.
On Friday: Speckled Beauties