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The View from Mary's Farm

The View from Mary's Farm for September 2007

September 2, 2007

Raging Bull

Edie Clark

One day late last fall, when I was out raking, a pickup with a noisy muffler rumbled past. In its wake, a big black beast went raging by, hooves flying, tail spinning. Head down, he rollicked into the field across the way. My dog, Mayday, barked furiously from behind the protection of the front door.
I was pretty sure whose animal this was. I stepped quickly to the phone and called the farmer down the road, who keeps cattle. I think one of your bulls is in my field, I said. My heart was pounding a bit, as Im not brave around certain kinds of animals.
There was a pause. Yup, he said, finally, that ones been on the run for a couple of weeks.
Well, Ive got him in my sights, I reported cheerfully, expecting to hear him say hed be right over to get him.
Mmmm, he said, laconically. Hes awful hard to get, that one. Weve tried but hes slippery like a deer. It would take a posse to catch him.
But, I said, not quite wanting to disclose that I was a bit fearful of having a bull on the loose around my front door. Or state the fact that it was hunting season.
Im not too worried, he said. Hell probably come home through the same hole in the fence he went through to get out.
Sounded like wishful thinking to me. I hung up and went to the window. Mr. Bull cut a fine profile out there, big and black and mighty, flipping his big rope tail as he tore at the late season grass. He fit the scene like a glove. But, when Mayday and I went out for walks, I would have to decide: did I want to wear red to protect myself from the hunters or not wear red to avoid being charged by a bull? One farm near here has a large sign on the fence that reads: Dont cross this field unless you can do it in 9.9 seconds. The bull can do it in 10. No need for a stopwatch on that one. Im not a fast runner.
A few days passed. I hadnt seen him do any more stampeding. In fact, he was becoming rather endearing. Sometimes hed turn his head and look toward the house, as if tempted to come over and make friends. At night, hed cry and caterwaul and carry on sadly. Each morning, first thing, Id look out to the field to find him. If he wasnt there, Id fret until I spotted him.
Weeks went by this way and the weather turned cold. Frost on the field. Bull still on the loose. Then days of not seeing him turned into weeks. I began to think that maybe the farmer had come to get him when I wasnt home. Or, perish the thought, a hunter had taken him.
Finally, I called to inquire. Oh, yes, he said. One day I was standing out in the barnyard talking to a friend and she came walking up the road, right up to us. We stepped aside and she went right into the barn.
She? I said. I thought it was a bull.
Nope. A cow, a young cow, full of beans.
It's hard to tell when they are young like that, even harder when they are at a distance. I felt somewhat chagrined but, he or she, I was surprised how much I missed this contented presence who had raged in and settled down, munching on the last greens of a good year.

Selected Works

In 1992, the Bishop of Worcester condemned St. Joseph's Catholic Church and ordered it closed. The parishioners refused to leave, sleeping on cots and on the hard pews. For thirteen months this was their life. In July of 1993, they were removed by the police. In many ways this was the blossoming of their faith. Originally published in Yankee Magazine in November 1993.
Growing up, nothing I could do seemed to please my mother and nothing she said made sense to me. But when my mother, on the threshold of death, came to live with me, I found what seemed to have been lost forever. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1995
(The follow-up article to Miracle at St. Joseph's.) The Bishop turned to them and said, "Your prayers have been answered, the hard hearts have softened." Originally published in Yankee Magazine, December 1996
A reflection on the power of cooking and friendship and the concept of family. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, November/December 2007
Memorial Day, Harrisville, New Hampshire 1995. Originally published in Yankee Magazine, May 1996
My Articles
Libraries occupy a special place in the heart of a town. Evening events at the library give a strong sense of community and make it seem like a great place to live. And in the wake of the online revolution small town libraries have found a way to not only survive but to be indispensable.
In December 2008 an epic ice storm left virtually the entire state of New Hampshire without power. The residual effects of that storm paralyzed the Monadnock Region almost through Christmas. A first person account.
In 1994, sixteen-year-old Billy Best was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. After several treatments, he ran away to avoid chemotherapy. What happened after that may have been a miracle.
Roxanne Quimby once lived primitively in the Maine woods. Today she owns 90,000 acres of those woods, and her goal is to create a national park to preserve the landscape forever. So why do so many people wish she'd just go away?
Multi-million dollar border stations are rising along our line between US and Canada. What was once the "friendliest border" has become deadly serious.
Renowned short story writer, Andre Dubus, reflects on the accident that cost him his legs.
A trip to Poland discovers a beloved family friend
An elegy for the master of the short story.
Fall comes to The County
Thousands seek healing from this innocent, comatose child.
A complete listing of articles published since 1978
An encounter with a sick fox brings a young woman to the heart of her grief