Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hide and Seek (08/07/08)
TITLE: Being Led Back Home
By Emily Gibson
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It was pitch black out that night, and in the pouring rain I went to search for her first in the field and then into the adjacent woods, armed only with a rope to put around her neck and a flashlight.
Trying to find a black angus cow on a dark and stormy night in the woods is nearly impossible. I tried all the trails I knew the cows used, and there was no sign of her. With the flashlight, I tried to catch the reflection from her eye in the underbrush, and I listened carefully for breaking twigs or crunching leaves from her footsteps. I called and whistled for her. I was getting very worried something was terribly wrong with my young cow or she had gotten out beyond our fencing.
It was then I heard the noise, a low guttural sound. Searching with my flashlight, I spotted the rise of her black belly, deep in the underbrush, lying on her side. As I approached, the circle of light shone on an undelivered calf, only two legs and part of a head exposed from the cow’s backside.
This young cow was frightened, soaked and clearly had been in labor for a long time, having found what she, in her instinct, thought would be a safe hiding place to birth her calf. Instead, she was almost trapped beneath impenetrable brush, exhausted and cold, with a calf that was not delivering.
I looped the rope around the calf’s legs and pulled, as I’d seen my father do on numerous occasions of tough calf deliveries. The young cow, with renewed energy, gave a push, and the little black calf slid out with some effort on both of our parts. I certainly didn’t expect it to still be living after its long ordeal, but it shuddered, gave a heave and took a breath. Alive!
I grabbed the driest leaves I could find on the forest floor and wiped down the calf as her mother rested, breathing heavily. Then I moved the calf up to her mother’s head. In her weariness, the young cow discovered the reason she had hid herself so effectively. Her new calf was now under her nose, with a scent she would never forget and soon she was tasting and stroking her baby with her rough tongue.
With the rope around the mother’s neck, I urged her to stand, and once her calf was able to manage her own legs after only a few minutes, we walked slowly back to the bright lit barn in the distance. As we got closer, our pace quickened, encouraged by the light, by the animal noises in the barn, by the knowledge that warmth and a meal awaited. My cow’s eyes were wide and reflected back the light she now approached with eagerness. She had been in hiding and lost, but now had been sought out and found, rescued.
In my life, there have been times I’ve chosen to hide when my troubles are overwhelming, thinking it is my safest option. Instead, I become even more lost and miserable, blinded by the dark. I have waited, helpless, to be found, hoping for what is to come. Watching for the door to open, the light to turn on, for someone who loves me and cares for me to fight through the darkness to seek me out, and staying along beside me, to lead me home.
Only then comes the comfort of knowing that once I've been brought into the light, darkness cannot surround me again.
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