Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Dead Cow Caper at Lisa's Farm

Here are the facts: Big Sis Lisa was watching my kids as I ran over to the storage unit to go though all my junk, and while they were there, one of the cows, couldn't rightly tell if it was T-Bone or Rib-Eye, (yep... that's them cow's names...) but one of them fell over in the lean-to and couldn't get up.
The Vet was called, an older gentlemen out of Woodburn. He came right over and knew exactly what to do. Rolled the calf around in straw, gave it water in a pan, and wrapped an old blue tarp over to keep it warm. He said it was the chickens that hurt the cow worst. Spiteful creatures. They saw an imperfection on his hoof and constantly pecked away at it until it drew blood and then an infection, brough the cow to it's knees. Then they began pecking at his eyes. People do that too, don't they. Kick somebody when they're down. Chickens and humans, some horror show, huh?
When I got back Jeff was headed over to the feed store and Lisa was on and off the phone and nobody wants that little calf to die. Nobody... but it just life on a farm, some would say. You get into this same conversation with people a lot in life, mostly with those who grew up out in the country, who have this profound sense of the fragile balance of life and death. City folk don't get it. Hardly even consider when biting into their chicken cordon bleu or steak marinade, that this was somebody's pet, that this animal was cared for and loved. In this case, my nephew Nate, who sat worried gazing out the window as the logging trucks rolled by... well, he did for a moment, then he went back to playing with his dinosaurs. It was the day after Christmas mind you.
You know, while I have been sitting in Taiwan for the past two years looking at American as if it were a shaken-up snow globe, loving this country and defending it to people who say we're dried up, past our prime, on the downward slide, just a bunch of dead weight... reading stories about families living in their parent's garage celebrating Christmas ... differently... this year, foreclosures, lay-offs, inflation, bailouts to rich corporation, back door politics, and the jobless rate, oh dear God, can't we find jobs for people...?
Well, I was sort of nervous to return.
I remember coming home from the road abroad back in the Clinton years. I was a young kid then, a passport full of stamps, Chinese Great Wall dust on my boots, and treasures stretching from Spain to Japan in my pack ready to be unwrapped and given to those I love. When I had left America just after the first Gulf War, my hometown of Colton Oregon had seen some hard times. Houses looked beat down, farms were in decline, uncertainty was everywhere, but for some reason, coming home a couple of years later, there was an optimism that was as palpable as the loving smell of fresh cut grass or bucked hay. There were new cars and boats in people's front yards. Fences were painted, and later that year Christmas lights shone like beacons on old country roads.
But not now.
People are barely getting by. People are scraping. People are living with cupboards bare. It humbles you. Gets you low. Makes you want to work even harder. There ain't no give up, in us Americans. Just, well, more of a profound sense of 'get it done.'
So as I watched my sister Lisa, who I love and admire, and her husband Jeff and kids go about their life, and later that day hanging with Grant and Christi and the boys, I just am reminded again, that the greatest asset this country has is not the companies or banks or corporations or government. It's not the laws or founding fathers or the little brief history we have as a nation we hold so dear.
It's the people.
People are what make America great.
And we may be down, sure. It's a tough time. But I have such faith in the American people I know and love. I just do. I believe in us. That will never change. So thank you, America. It was a fun trip home. You reminded me again what it means to be one of you. To never give up. To make your mistakes and take your lumps. To forgive. To let go. To rise up and bring others with you. To love. To cherish. To help those who are less fortunate. To be true to yourself. To make others feel the same.
I'll carry that back with me over the sea. That message to people. I promise. I might be an American living abroad, but I'm just the same as you, and I won't let you down.

No comments:

Post a Comment