One morning when I went for a run, the good Lord blessed me with such a joy, though simple that it was.
A week earlier, my nephew, Rod, had brought two cows and their newborn calves to put in my pasture. He had put them in the corral at the barn for a day, then released them into the pasture. For the next several days that came and went, the mamas and their babies had stay put on that side of the small river, though they have much less room to roam.
"How are my cows doing?" I had asked Brandon as I was traveling back from a business trip to Orlando. Brandon is my indispensable right hand, who, for a few years, has helped to take care of things around the house. He had called in to report on his chores and that he had checked my house. Since we installed the first small herd of cattle in my pasture more than a year ago, I have been a quite enthusiastic farmer, enthralled with my agricultural venture.
He chuckled. "They're doing fine. But they stayed across the creek at your mama's house all weekend. They never came over to your house."
"Well, the mamas aren't ready for their babies to test the water," I replied. "Plus, it's been a little bit high because of all the rain so they're waiting until it's safe."
Animals are fascinating and so smart in their own quest for survival. The mama cows knew it was a bit too high for their little babies to navigate. As I was running back up the driveway, my breathless torture moments away from ending, I happened to glance over at the banks of the water. What I saw, stopped me in my tracks. I was privileged to see the mamas and their babies make their first journey across the creek.
One mama led the way, running up the embankment while two uncertain, tentative calves followed. Another mama brought up the rear, encouragingly nudging the calves as she pushed them with her nose. The calves, noticeably scared, stopped at the top of the embankment, water dripping from their bellies. Suddenly, their heads bobbed up with interest, their eyes seemed to widen.
They couldn't believe all the new land to explore. In a flash, both took off in a gallop, trotting up the hill, eager to see new places and taste new grass. The mamas wasted no time, running along behind them, standing back just far enough to allow the babies to explore but close enough to guard their safety.
It was such a wonder of nature that I was awed. Tears clouded my eyes and I heard myself whisper, "Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to see this." It was like seeing a baby take her first steps.
Back in time I traveled, to a morning long ago when I was still in high school. It was early when I dragged into the kitchen, still wiping the sleep from my eyes. Mama was standing at the sink, looking out the window toward the pasture. Her hands were folded together under her chin and she was smiling ear to ear.
"Looky there!" she said, turning to me as the smile broke into a full fledged grin. "We've got a new baby calf. It must've been born last night."
I joined Mama at the sink and, wordlessly, we watched the wonder of nature in the form of a spindly legged, red and white calf, tiny and dependent as they cuddled together on the creek banks. Her mama licked her little head as the baby rubbed against her in a comforting way, knowing she was safe.
Now, all the years later, the joyful wonder of a mama and her baby calf is still as splendid. Thank goodness that in a world where change happens in the twinkling of an eye, some things never change.
Ronda Rich is the Gainesville author of "What Southern Women Know About Faith."
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