"Supper Time" white embossing, 11x18 inches. Aaron Brown
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True Story: Aaron's "Supper Time" embossing was inspired by his many years of caring for an old farmer's cows. This piece is abstract, but tails and horns, hooves and even Aaron's human feet and legs can be imagined in this work. (hint: look for Aaron's feet and legs in the negative space) Aaron has history with cows and bulls, as a child and young man he had many astonishing bull dreams while asleep, and now he is the caregiver of 3 rescued bulls, Hiram, Joseph and Patanjali in the light of day. (Read Hiram's birth story below)
During the dozen or so years that Aaron cared for our local neighbor's cows almost every day, he wrote about his experiences, more than a thousand pages of stories and notes. I used to say it was his spiritual practice, and I still think that's true. Here's a page from those stories. Enjoy . . .
Story by Aaron Brown
How does one describe the significance of a cow? The importance of its existence. This weight grows on you, as you feed the cow every day. It's presence, watching your every move, expectantly, anticipating, perhaps bellowing at you if their mood is right - sometimes getting all the others worked up as well, a chorus of bellows, sons and daughters of tree and stone and earth - the green and yellow grasses coursing through their veins.
How do you describe this cow, that watches you closer than you watch yourself, well before you throw the hay out - afterwards in intent concentration on the process of eating hardly concerned with which way you might decide you care to go.
Big Black, always there, shiny black from head to foot, one of the quiet ones, never rising too high in the ranks, but never falling too low either, remaining about five on the hierarchy. Seasoned mother, intelligent mother, always going down in the lower woods where the ground was covered with dry pine needles, there she would calf, alone, close by a running spring that ran through the woods, spending a couple of days and nights down there giving her newborn constant attention.
It was there that I found her with her calf. She had not been present at feeding time, the first time since I had started feeding the cows. I think that I had noticed that she had been bagging up, that's what Jerry says when they are about to calf. You can tell when a cow is about to calf when their udders slowly start to get bigger and bigger. A day before they give birth the udders all fill right up and their vagina also swells up and gets quite red and wet. Then if you are lucky they will disappear deep into some far off woods and do their job.
So when she didn't show up I fed the others and got a bucket and put some grain and hay in it and headed out to see if I could find her. I went down the field and through the wooded gully that leads out onto the lower fields. These fields are mowed by the cows closer than a golf course, and at the head of the field is an old rusty coca cola dispenser rusted and half sunk into the field with dirt spilling out the side that had rusted clean through. I figure that it was left there when Jerry Had his great motorcycle jamboree in the late fifties. One thousand motorcycles descended upon the place riding up from Fitchburg, in a procession seven miles long. Coke anyone?
The fields roll like the dessert with glades of trees along one side and a long stone wall about fifteen feet wide along the side to the left. Barberry bushes (I think) dot the field, a bush with red berries in the fall with thorns that are so slender and sharp that even brushing lightly by one you will feel its needle like thorns pierce the toughest dungarees and prick your skin. Yes they survive the relentless appetites, but still the cows keep them in line by nibbling on the tender new shoots that they send out and so the bushes never get too arrogant or big for their britches.
At the end of the field the field slopes down into the woods, a well worn woods, manicured by years of pruning so that you can see through the woods, as all the lower branches of the trees have been pruned off by the cows, and here in these woods the ground is wet, as a current of water runs through it. This whole woodlands seems to be crisscrossed by this movement of water, once and a while coalescing into what almost looks like a brook, but more often than not spreading out into a broad movement through the ground, and here the ancient stones are covered with green moss and the smell of water and earth mix, and the air is cool even in the heat of summer.
A stone wall on the right side of this field runs down into these woods for about a hundred yards, and then makes a right angle turn along the barbed wire fence and heads to the east. This stone wall goes along for about a quarter mile till it reaches another stone wall, and the barbed wire at this point takes a left turn and heads north along this wall for about a half mile, all the way back to the dirt road that Jerry lives on.
It was as if i was following this wall back out towards the road that I spotted Big Black in a sunny little opening in the woods, next to a small brook with a tiny little teetering, white and black calf. White could not anywhere be whiter than on this newly born thing, nor could black anywhere be blacker. And there it was wobbling around its mother, Big Black eyeing me warily, while I was exclaiming softly to her of what I thought of this miracle that had happened in these woods. And her relaxing a bit as she began to realize it was only me and that that white bucket I held just might have some grain in it.
Now her bones lay next to Big White's, bleaching white with the sun, and the little black and white calf stands up in the pasture, seventeen hundred pounds, Hiram, jumper of stone walls and barbed wire fences, it seems no matter how many times I fix them, the only bull now still possessing the family jewels. And tearing around the pasture like a pony is Pretty Girl's calf of two weeks ago now, just as impossibly black and white, a tiny bull that has not yet revealed his name.