It'd probably be more honest if I referred to these posts as "bi-monthly statements" rather than bulletins, huh? I can't seem to scrape together the energy to write an account of recent events until long after they're over. For instance, my stay in Vermont was so full of activity that it seemed to me it would be INDECENT to post accounts immediately afterwards. A bit like the first time I encountered home video -- it was at the home of a friend's relatives, at a family gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving in Chicago, about 15 years ago -- and they kept filming the dinner in progress then watching the results on their monitor. It was surreal -- like being a flower watching its own time-lapse photography -- a recipe for terminal self-conscious.
So I'm now back in New York, currently at the home of friends in Long Island (alert readers of this blog will recognize that I was here some weeks ago too, attending the birthday party of the local grandchild ...) and looking back over the past few weeks. I have pictures to post too, but I'll do that later. I arrived in the city last week, on Friday from Boston, where I spent a night after arriving from Vermont.
The first two days/nights in NYC were taken up with helping (? not that I am ever of any practical assistance -- OBSERVING is probably the operative term) my friends K and A get ready for their departure to India. Believe me, I have received a massive education in how to be cool: they went about their packing, their preparation and departure as if they were merely sauntering out to do their laundry -- they were SO CALM AND COLLECTED. Whoa. K is Indian, A is Madagascaran (-ese? Don't know!) and they own a tasty little curio shop on 77th st between Amsterdam and Broadway -- it's a small shop with BIG atmosphere -- a bit like stepping through a portal straight into the sixties. The incense is REAL, if you see what I mean.
Now that they've left, I am knocking about in their apartment all on my own, and thrilled to have that luxury -- I've been maintaining a small column for Kai Friese's CITY LIMITS magazine, about being a hermit -- and the funny thing is, it's all true, what I write in the column: I REALLY ADORE being alone. Maybe it's because I so rarely am? Maybe it's because New York is a great city in which to be alone, because in an apartment -- unlike in space -- EVERYONE can hear you scream?* (*ref to the sub-title for the first ALIEN movie) Whatever. It's a great little apartment, on the upper west side, totally IMMERSED in eateries and little shops and a walking museum of PEOPLE -- whooooaaaaa -- what types, what amazements! Every person who walks past is a character of some sort -- even their DOGS are characters of some sort -- and the super-rich are in short supply: it's relatively ordinary people in the upper west-side -- with a strong accent on RELATIVELY.
Vermont, however was a whole other trip. I'm only going to offer high-lights here -- one of which, DEFINITELY, was the afternoon that E and I were on our own at home and the cow got loose. Now I have to pause the movie here to explain (a) that there is a big paddock -- by which I mean, about two acres of lush green, sloping land, bordered by conifers on the eastern boundary, and the driveway of the house along the western boundary. (b) The cow is a young brown creature, of the sort I would call a Jersey, but probably isn't (I did ask Suzanna, but have now forgotten what she said. I'm pretty sure it WASN'T a Jersey, but for some reason that's the name my brain supplies when it sees a short brown bovine), and has not yet been bred (hence -- for you city slickers who are inclined to say, "Oh? You mean cows are just like women?" And in case some of you are sneering, let me assure you, this remark is a QUOTE -- I have actually heard someone say this -- it has not yet started producing milk) but is currently on heat (c) she has a companion in the form of a young (and still quite small) steer -- he is rather interestingly vari-coloured and Steve has told me that he belongs to a rare local breed, with a dark stripe along his back.
There is a final point I need to add: I am afraid of bovines. This is a rather painful admission to make, since I normally reside in a country RENOWNED for the herds of holy bovines roaming the streets -- of course, this may well explain why I don't especially LIKE residing in that country ...
Right. Got that? E and I were alone on the farm, with a feisty young cow running around loose on the driveway, no doubt searching desperately for a hot date. The steer, as I hope all you slickers, city-bred or otherwise, will realize was useless in the hot-date department. In fact, I was the one who noticed that she had got loose because I heard the steer bellowing -- and when I went out to see what the matter was (at a discreet distance, of course, not wanting any intimate encounters) I saw that he was upset because the cow was out of the paddock, while he was still stuck behind the thin orange wire which delivers a mild electric shock to keep them both in.
To begin with E tried to run after the cow, while she scampered this way and that, with the goats in their pen watching GOGGLE-EYED, like annoying bystanders watching a road-side brawl. Chickens scattered underfoot. The dogs would have loved to get involved but fortunately, I had locked them up inside. At one point, E did manage to actually grab the cow's neck chain but she raced off with him hanging on, so he let her go -- there wasn't really all that much choice -- it was either that or to become like one of those cartoon figures, flying sideways in the air, alongside a bolting brown blur.
I am sure some of you have realized what was soon to happen: E informed me that the only way to get the cow back in the paddock was for ME -- white-knuckled-with-fear-of-bovines-ME -- to hold the steer in the barn, while he shooed the cow back behind the electric wire. We'd worry about how she got loose later -- for now the important thing was to get her back before the steer got loose and we had TWO large herbivores on the loose.
Well, I can tell you I was bellowing almost as loudly as the steer. E said I was making a ridiculous fuss and that there was NOTHING TO IT -- and of course he was right. First he shooed the steer (his name, btw, is SITTING BULL) into the hay barn and then he gave me a stick and said, "Just poke him on the nose and tell him to STAY IN THE BARN -- and don't be a goose!!!" YOW! YOW! YOW! This was my worst nightmare come to life*(*no it wasn't actually -- the worst nightmare involved huge BLACK BULLS chasing me around the universe -- but close enough)!!!
But ... it really was that simple. I poked the young creature in his flank a couple of times and said, in a loud, quavery voice, "NO! STOP THAT! SITTING BULL GO BACK!!" And he DID. And E shooed the cow back behind the fence. And I flung down the stick and scrambled through the gate. And we checked the fence wire and realized it had mysteriously (we have no idea why) been turned off. And we turned it back on. And that was the end of that.
Totally fun, huh? And now I've got to stop, but I WILL RETURN, like the Terminator, to finish this tale of Vermont later today and add pictures too.