Paw Paw carried me up the hill as he looked out across the pasture for a mama cow and her new baby calf. I don’t really remember this part, only that I was out with him that day to check the cows. I think he’d taken me to give my mom a little break (she had a new baby — my brother, Kyle).
We got to the top of this hill and somewhere along the way the mama cow was located and she was none too happy to see us. Paw Paw knew he was going to have to run and he knew it wasn’t something safe or smart to do with little 20 month old me in his arms.
There, on top of the hill, was a tree. One of its branches was low enough that he could reach up and set me down on it. He put my tiny arms around the trunk of the tree and told me to hold on and not let go. I don’t think I was scared just then, but I knew he was serious. Maybe I should add that I was speaking in full sentences at this point, so it wasn’t like he was sticking a tiny baby up there with no clue what was going on. I was a toddler though and we should probably be glad this all happened in the 1980s and not now, otherwise I might have ended up on the news.
Paw Paw told me to sit still and hold on tight to the tree and that’s exactly what I did. I trusted him absolutely. He went to lead the mama cow away from me and to find her baby. I don’t know how much time passed, but the next thing I remember, and the strongest, earliest memory of my life is what happened next.
Running up to the tree where I sat high above the ground, here came the mama cow. She ran right up underneath me and the top of her head brushed the bottom of my little bare feet. I hugged the tree tight and squalled just as loud as my lungs would permit. That scared the cow and she turned to run away from my bellowing cries.
A few moments later, after what felt like forever, Paw Paw returned and rescued me from my perch. I recall telling this story, especially the bit about the cow rubbing my feet, to anyone that would listen. I know Paw Paw can tell it better, so maybe I’ll ask him to refresh my memory on all the details. And maybe I’ll go find this tree.
Photo above was taken around the time of the cow adventure, maybe even the same day. I feel like that might have been the outfit I was wearing when it happened.