Megan told us that the pasture would turn green over night. It hit all at once; as soon as one leaf shifted, a lush, verdant ocean rolled out over the undulating ground beneath my feet. Josie and I walked across the spring-welcomed meadow, and emerald stalks tickled up, enveloping our mud-caked boots. Apples and carrots weighed heavy in our pockets and folded up sections of overshirt as we made our way towards Sal, our striking, chestnut workhorse. She remained, mane flitting in the wind, within the confines of her paddock, watching wisely as we approached. Cool wind brushed against my bare legs. I stepped carefully, avoiding fresh cow pies and reaching my hand out to cup Halo’s nose as she inquisitively pushed her large, jersey head against my body in search of the treats I held for Sal. Josie and I allotted three carrots and an apple each, to divide between our three glorious cows, Gideon, Louise and Halo. I sat in the pasture, the sun baking the smell of cow into the air–a smell that I have come to know and love–and broke the apple into bits in my hand, juice running down towards my elbows. While horses eat with their lips, cows eat with their excessively long, purple, sandpaper tongues. Halo’s tongue curled out around my wrist and hand, in search of goodies. Wetness from the ground seeped through my dress and flannel as Louise lay in the grass nearby, all the while keeping her good eye fixed upon my every motion. I moved to sit near her, gently extending the length of my arm toward the flat of her nose, because even grumpy cows need love. Louise moved into my hand, allowing me to stroke in between her eyes, for the first time, without butting my hand away. My heart welled and I continued this connection until Gideon began exploring my hair from behind. I twisted around, one hand remaining with Louise while the other reached up to scratch beneath Gideon’s chin and jawline, and let the sun beat down on my face as the affectionate cows moved under my fingertips.
Mud squelched in our steps and we continued on our journey to reach Sal’s pen. Josie pointed out the mud, dampening my dress, as we ducked under the electrified fence surrounding the paddock. Sal shifted one of her feet, drawing up a sucking noise from the mud, when she moved for a better angle of hay consumption. I sat atop her hay mound, in her pasture, in the sun. The smell of sun dried grasses filled my nostrils and the back of my legs sat prickly from hay. I held an apple flat on my palm, reaching up towards Sal, waiting for her rubbery lips to envelope my hand. Crunching moved clearly through the air and Sal’s dark lips foamed white with crushing apple. Her breath smelled sweet and earthy. Josie and I lay back upon the hay, the sun warmed our faces and wind rustled our clothing. I looked up at Sal, as she reached her head down for the hay that lay surrounding me and below me, I watched her profound muscles shift as she raised and lowered her head. Occasionally Sal used the strength of her nose to nudge me aside, for better munching. Blackbirds sang in the distance and the distinct, comforting smell of farm filled my being. Josie and I lay, beneath the sun’s rays, beneath Sal’s powerful head, listening and absorbing the spring that had finally fallen upon Chewonki.
-Hanna Lafferty, Friends’ Central School, PA