Cows Don’t Mind the Dark

Cows don’t mind the dark. I never really thought much about cows in the dark. Driving in the cold and snow I did wonder about them just standing there quietly eating hay and pondered whether or not not they were as aghast at the changing season as I was. They don’t appear to be although I grumble with every extra layer I have to put on and and swear every time I can’t find where my mittens are hiding (each mitten seems to take it’s turn). Swearing may, or may not, also be involved in the clearing of ice from my windshield and snow from the top of my vehicle. It feels almost inhuman to have to deal with temperatures that reach -40C (also, ironically the same as -40F). I want to hibernate, not wend my way in a vehicle that feels like the tires are square and doesn’t fully warm up till I’ve traveled the 35kms to work and then repeat in the opposite direction at the end of the day. I do think about the deer and other assorted wildlife and wonder how the heck do they do it? How do they even survive? (sadly, some do not) Retirement absolves me from the necessity of dragging my winter weary carcass out of bed on a truly repugnant weather day, never mind getting onto the highway. It’s not yet the end of October and already the temperatures are in the minus teens and there’s been one snow day where school buses were cancelled. I will admit I quite enjoyed the (admittedly smug) feeling.
The Lady Aurora dances in all weather and winter skies bring some of the clearest in Northern Alberta. Clear skies in winter also means cold temperatures. I am always on the lookout for a miraculous glove that will keep my shutter finger from freezing. Often after a night of cold air, I seek out physio for my painful joint. Yup, age sometimes sucks. Layers help, but pretty soon all flexibility in movement is lost. And yet the Lady is the one thing that can force me out of my cocoon at all cost.
In this photo, there is a large field of cows in the foreground, black angus cows nearly invisible. At the beginning, when I set up my camera, they were a bit interested. The ones closest to me stopped their chewing and eyed me with suspicion. They made a few bellows to their fellows further afield and, quickly realizing I was not a threat, went back to their task at hand. Above them, the lady was dancing up a storm. And they were oblivious. Totally and utterly. In my love of the chase, perhaps I assumed all God’s creatures would stop and watch in awe as I do. But the reality is, they do not. Or maybe it is just black angus cattle that don’t care. I can create the vision in my mind that somewhere behind me a little rabbit is sitting up on his hind legs watching with amazement. I grew up with Disney…that is exactly how things should work. The truth is, not every human is as intrigued by this manifestation of nature as I. In fact, it would seem very few. After seeing my photos so many friends have begged me to tell them when I see the Lady and to let them know, plying me with phone numbers I can text on the fly. I used to make a point of taking the time to text and post on social media…only to get replies like “I’m already in my pajamas” “It’s too cold” “It’s been a long day” which I totally get, if it weren’t 8:30 pm. All valid reasons at any time, really…except that the Lady has a way of energizing, of bringing awe and wonder into our lives that is indescribable – you have to be there to get it. But alas, while I will stand and watch the performance for hours, there are others who look up and say “oh, so that’s it. Nice. Back to Netflix”. Wait. What?
I feel very blessed to “feel” Nature. I am saddened by the ever blossoming night pollution. I fear for our planet with every news story on climate change. I do what I personally can and then try to soak up every moment of this beautiful world. Every single time I see something amazing in the night sky I am reminded of Robert Browning: “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world”. And, for a short time, I can actually believe it.

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