Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Memory: Peter Fields' Cows

We are driving, more like drifting, down what is affectionately know as "the Mountain," but which is really just the BIG hill in the middle of the Island where we live.  Headed toward town, perhaps to school, or to get to my summer job at the ice cream window, we let gravity pull us down past trees, and plots of farm land.  Mailboxes, and only a very few stop signs, are scattered along the roadside.  I roll down the window and stick out my hand, weaving it in and out of the strong air current like so many other girls in so many other cars on so many other sunny days have done. 
Disclaimer: Although the resemblance is striking, this photo was not taken on the actual road I'm talking about, but on another Northern Ontario road of the same name, the 10th Side Road.
Credit: Michael Gill

But when we get to the little bridge where locals know to swerve slightly and miss a bump in the pavement, we stop.  The bridge is in front of Peter Fields' place.  Quiet, soft-eyed, whiskery-lipped Peter Fields.  Peter Fields who I have never seen wearing anything but dusty old barn clothes.  Hard working, good man, Peter Fields.  Peter Fields who sticks in my memory although we never even spoke.

We stop because of the cows.  They have jumped the fence that divides Peter Fields' field from the ditch at the side of the road where his cows now graze contentedly.  It is not that they are in danger, but that they could be, that makes my father pull over onto the gravel shoulder which crackels under the tires.
Credit: Sarah Puleo
I wait in the car, soaking in the heat it absorbs from the sun, as my father checks to see if Peter Fields is home, lets him know his cows have escaped again, Peter thanks him.  We drive on, swerve to miss the bump in the road, my body swerving too inside the car, half a second behind.

Mr. Pringle, a neighbour, will come to help Peter Fields get his cows back inside the fence.  But probably they will escape again some other day.
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