Spring. I awake to the distant sound of water rushing in the small creek that skirts the southern boundary of our land, and above that, the intermittent call of songbirds. I feel like I should know which ones, but I don’t. Daylight coming on, but the sky is low and sinking lower, I can feel it even if I can’t quite see it yet. It will rain soon. The floor creaks beneath my feet. After coffee and chores I pedal my bike up the long, steep climb to Cole’s Pond, the thawing road soft beneath my tires, beads of sweat amassing along my brow, lining up to drop one after the other. I ride under a strand of wire strung from the outstretched branches of maples on either side of the road; a hot line to a fence containing a herd of Angus that watch my passing with that particular bovine breed of curiosity: Interested, but not too interested. Like really if they had anything better to do, they’d be doing it. There’s no grass for them yet, but it won’t be long. Two, three weeks. Another few minutes of climbing and there’s the charred remains of the house that burned last month, it’s stunning to see the fire’s rude work, everything black and twisted into gross approximations of its original form. I don’t know the family, but I heard they made it out ok. So that’s good at least.
A young woman shows up to my writing group, and when I ask if her name is spelled Bee or Bea, she says it’s just B, and then proceeds to crank out one incredible spoken word piece after another, full of these complex rhymes that never quite seem to fall where I’m expecting, and I can tell immediately that this is a person who’s done some living. I mean, who hasn’t, but you know: There’s living, and there’s living, and maybe like most of us I sometimes feel like I’m dwelling too much in the former and not enough in the latter. But really who’s to say. Each will take their pound of flesh. Each will eat you alive eventually. I bet B would agree.
By the time I’ve made the top of the climb and ridden back down past the burned house and under the hot wire, the farmer who strung it is out fixing fence. Lines in his face like a treasure map. He waves, I wave. Morning. Mornin’. I look for the cows again but they’re nowhere to be seen and I guess they went and found something better to do after all.
14 thoughts on “I Bet B Would Agree”
Hi Ben….Thanks for this post. It brought a broad smile to my face that was much needed.
I would like to see the faces of those Angus: interested but not too interested. I think I can see that look but would much rather see it face-to-face. Makes it tangible. No guesswork.
Thanks for the photo, always appreciated. Makes it tangible. And I shall be beware.
Thanks, Tom. I often remember your requests for photos when deciding whether or not to capture something. I’m glad for the encouragement.
Ben, Thank you for that! Means a lot.
Ben – another thoughtful essay. Loved your comments about the cows. I live in the middle of Nebraska cow country and can see four different herds (on different farms) in all four directions from our place. Sometimes when I’m walking down the road 50 or 60 critters will crowd the fence, following me intensely. Other times, they will barely glance up and go back to grazing whatever there is to graze. The different herds do different things on different days. No predicting whether a particular herd will study me intently or ignore me.
Thanks, Gene. I love watching cows. Pretty sure I’ve posted this before, but your comment made me think of Hayden Carruth’s poem “The Cows at Night.”
From years of reading what you share, I like your way of living
Two questions: (1) what kind of bike do you ride on those gravel hill roads? (2) Where could one read something that B wrote? I know there are lots of good writers out there who need more exposure and I have searched for moderated lists of good/new/little-known blogs but have not found anything. Other than you, I have only two writers whose blogs I follow…so far.
Hi Rod, I have a couple of bikes, but the one I ride most (and the one I was riding yesterday morning for this ride) is a Cannondale cyclocross bike I bought off Craigslist. It’s an amazing bike, weighs all of about 17 lbs, but it was pretty cheap because it’s 10 yrs old, which is like 40 yrs in bike tech time;)
Regarding blog recommendations, I’m a bit sheepish to admit that I don’t do a ton of blog reading, but I DO always read my friend Brett Stancui’s blog. She’s got a great eye for the people and places and little moments of small town and rural VT. You can find it here: https://stonysoilvermont.com/
One more thing – after re-reading your piece, I got stuck on living vs. “living”. Maybe they are the same when you get down to what’s really important. Maybe youth confuses the one with sex, drugs, and rock and roll but in the end, those who live long enough realize that it’s about quiet satisfaction with one’s life. At 66, I just haven’t lived that long yet and those three sirens (actually others more demure) still sing to me from rocky shores. Waiting but I CAINT GET
NO-Oh SAT is FAK SHON. World peace is what I’m looking for…..
haha, yes, I agree entirely. Especially about the more demure sirens and world peace.
For birdsongs, try the Birdnet app, Ben. Record the song, and it gives you the guesses. Fun to play around even for me, who hates apps. 🙂
Thanks, Bee. I’ll check it out.
We are surrounded by cows – certainly many more of them here than people. I find that comforting. Thanks for another great post. I feel like I am right there with you. 🙂
That sign! Really makes that road beckon! For some reason I’m contemplating the many Bs in this: beware, boundary, (song)bird, bike, brow, branches, bovine, burned, B, better…and more.