The first two are from just outside the town I grew up in.
These next are from the cowfields I spent my childhood. Visiting makes me wish a camera was in my child hands. How would I have captured this place then?
Behind me here I found the nearly intact skeleton of a cow who died birthing her calf with tiny tiny split feet, her pale ribs and spine still arched above the ground picked clean by coyotes and the sweet white curve of her little one's ribs scattered across the forest floor. Hawks left behind tail feathers as a tribute to their meal. A persimmon tree nearby, laden with astringent orange fruit, attested the bitter view.
At the marsh below, I'd sing to the frogs and crickets when there were more, our voices rising and falling in the afternoon, nonsense and mostly out of tune, bovine bones and turtle shells dug from the black muck adorned a chickee fort.
A red hide dried tight across the skull pulled back thinned lips and once chased me away, the opened jaw in a haunted bellow followed me home and to school, until the idea to tan the skin pulled me back. Mud sucked at my shoes as the dried skin cracked from its bones, the stiff thing clattered behind on the way home. Soaked soft in a bucket with oak leaves and forgotten, until putrid and foaming it produced retching in those too close, the poured out the liquid tainted the ground and attracted the dogs until the next thunderstorm washed it down.
When the water rose changing the marsh to a pond, bits of logs were lashed together as an ineffectual raft, the patch of cattails promising tasty treats stayed forever just out of my reach.
Another day a calf lay quietly alone in the shade hidden in foliage, concern flooded my chest when it didn't rise at my approach. As my hands ran over it looking for an injury, my eyes watched for its mother. Its red coat ever so soft rose and fell under my hands and thrilled me. Its eyes still unconcerned, I sat a little longer and left it.This past week found the pond field closed to cows, overgrown with dogfennel, and the shade of the oaks tilled by feral pig snouts. Most critters tend to ignore dogfennel because of the poison harbored it harbors, but orange wooly caterpillars munched without reservation.
The pond's adjacent field held the first crop I've ever seen planted there; a white pipe at least a half mile long snaked across another field to irrigate the watermelon vines, cows congregated along its path grazing the grass made greener by its leaks. Curious groups of calves watched us pass by before bolting away heels kicking gleefully in the air.
The blur has been sighted here before.