We placed our feet firmly upon the bottom rail of the cross fence and looked with trepidation across the pasture. We’d crossed one pasture without incident. No real trouble had been expected anyway, as only the cows and a mule were held there. They had been too busy chomping hay to notice two girls walking by.
I thought about the apple pie we had eaten last night-hot and served with warm cream. Jen’s mom had sat fresh milk out on the kitchen countertop earlier in the day and waited for the cream to rise. Once the cream revealed itself, she scraped it from the milk, put the remaining milk in the fridge and ladled a bit of the cream over each piece of apple pie. It was heaven! One, or even two, of the cows we had just passed were responsible for providing us with such a treat.
I would probably rather be back at Jen’s house eating left over pie, I thought, for what lie on the other side of this cross fence was not-I repeat-NOT the soft eyed jersey cows which lie behind us. It was the bull!
To me the large black bull looked like death! Or at least severe injury. I imagined those horns impaling me in my hind end. I was shorter and uhmm-softer- than my tall lanky friend, so I undoubtedly could not outrun her. I would pull up the rear, I knew, and get gored in my own rear because of it.
But Jen had led us this way after breakfast. And I followed. She wanted to visit her older sister who lived just on the other side of the pasture with her new husband.
“We could go around,” she said, “but this way is faster.”
So, here we were, standing on the cross fence railing. We stared at the bull. The bull stared back.
“Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do.” Jen spoke decidedly. “ We’ll wait until he’s not looking at us. Then we’ll go. Daddy says if ya run the bull will chase you. So, we’re just gonna walk real slow hopin’ he doesn’t notice us. “
We stepped off the fence rail pretending we were leaving and had no interest in the bull. It worked. He turned and gave his attention to the grass. We quietly stepped back on the fence and stealthily climbed over. We began to walk slowly to the other side, fairly tiptoeing, the bull’s back to us.
My heart pounded in my ears and I dared not take a breath. We were a quarter of the way there. I risked a glance at the bull. No change. I took a breath. We were halfway there.
A deep rumble, a snort, and a pounding of a front hoof. His eyes were on us!
We abandoned the plan and took off in a full run, still not breathing. Jen was over the fence without even climbing. She turned and reached for me pulling me over. I felt breath upon my back as I flung myself over the rail.
The bull snorted in defiance and turned back to the grass.
Jen and I collapsed upon the ground, our backs in the tall browning bahia . We glanced
at one another, breathed our first full breath in what seemed like days, rolled to our sides and laughed ’til our bellies ached.
Then we made another decision, a grown-up decision, one born of wisdom garnered through experience.
On the way home, we were going around!