Memory Retrieval

Today I was kissed by a buffalo. All right, maybe he was tasting me, but allow me my illusion. I walked my dogs this morning by the buffalo pasture up on the hill. The beasts ambled toward the fence and, despite the noisy protests of my little terrier, they pressed their massive heads to the wire squares. Blessed with an indefatigable case of arrested development, I immediately poked my hand through the fence. The largest buffalo swung his head around, stuck out his black, sandpaper tongue, and licked my palm. This was a much better reception than I’d gotten from previous herds who met my efforts at friendliness with a quick thrust of horn in an attempt to perforate any of my body parts it could reach. Which turned out to be none, given my dumb luck or spot-on reflexes. But today I got kissed. It reminded me of the years I spent nurturing my relationships with the cows in the neighbor’s pasture behind my childhood home. A solitary child, I often snaked through the barbed wire fence and skipped across the meadow, 20 or 30 cows sauntering in my wake, to the large maple tree. Where its branches spread out in thick arms, the neighborhood boys had built, then abandoned, a superb treehouse complete with a rusty tire chain for a ladder. From my perch there, I could break off tufts of juicy maple leaves, stretch down in death-defying postures, and entice the cows. They’d lick the offerings from my fingers, their pink tongues scraping and tickling my hands. We’d while away hours entrancing each other, the cows so thick below me I couldn’t see meadow. When it was time to return home for supper according to my Hop-along Cassidy wristwatch, I’d dangle down from the branch, using my legs to part the cows until it was possible to squeeze myself between their barrel bodies. After stepping on my toes to snuffle for any leaves I might still have, they’d walk me home as far as the fence, mooing, bidding me to return soon. Today, the buffalo reminded me of all those cows. I offered them grass, but they already had plenty of that. Tomorrow, when I walk the dogs, I’m going to take carrots and apples.IMG_0227

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