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Thursday, July 28, 2011

You try walkin' around in this damn cow suit!

I came across this farm house and field of beans and corn on Foot Hills Road.

     When time isn't a big factor, one of my favorite meandering routes is two-lane H Highway, which connects Liberty and Excelsior Springs. It's a twisty-turny road with two or three near 90-degree hairpin turns.
     As far as this road's concerned, the word "highway" is a bit of an exaggeration. It's more of a route, which is what the state officially calls it.
     If you're not paying attention and don't make one of the turns you're likely to become one with nature – and not necessarily in a good sense. I like the road, of course, because of the openness of the pastures and sky, the old graveyards, the herds of cattle, the red-winged blackbirds, the wildflowers and – maybe my favorite, several mules that graze next to a straight leg of the road that's sandwiched between two hairpins.
     There's no shoulder to pull over on, no driveways or farm roads to pull into, so if I stop and take a quick photo from the road – always with an eye on the rear-view mirror and nervous glances to see who might be coming in front of me. I'm no Ansel Adams, but I'm guessing he wouldn't put up with these hit 'n' run rural photo techniques.
     At the edge of Excelsior Springs – for you non-natives, the accepted local pronunciation is something very close to "sellser", as in "I have to go through Sellser to get there" – there's a sign that says to turn off to reach a popular winery. I rarely have time to wander, so I pass by and wonder where it is and what it looks like.
     Curiosity is definitely the only trait I share with the common cat, other than maybe napping frequently.
     I left work yesterday and didn't have anywhere to be and no one at home, so it was a green light to wander. I'd noticed a similar sign directing people to the winery from the other side of Sellser, this one off 10 Highway.
     The turnoff was right by the Sellser Springs Airport, a facility whose motto should be "Where Planes Take Off Twice Every Three Years".
     With some time to kill, I turned off and headed toward the winery and who-knows-where.
     After the usual twisting and turning and craning my neck to read street signs (as if I'd know their significance), I wound up on a gravel road named Ray County Line Road. That's pretty self-explanatory, since Ray extends to the edge of Sellser, where Clay County begins. Given all the political squabbles in the area, I'm surprised there's no Fray County.
     I found the road that leads to the winery, but by then I'd become far more interested in my wandering perusal than actually finding it. You've seen one winery, you've seen them all. You know, people in pressed linen slacks discussing vintage grape varieties and pretending not to be hitting the demon alcohol while guzzling it (in moderation, of course, with lots of cheese).
     I can understand that some people have no interest in seeing horses flicking flies off their tails, cattle cooling their heels (and everything else) in ponds, an old trucks parked on hills and rows and rows of braided corn and money-green soy beans.
     I took photos of most of the above, but never really knew where I was. It was after 5, so I was using the setting sun as my personal GPS (thank you, Mother Nature, thank you God) and making turns by instinct.
     When I passed a group of cattle in a pond, I stopped, rolled down the passenger-side window and took some photos. Sorry, Ansel, I'm a seat-of-the-pants kind of guy. I took maybe five or six shots of the cows, but only one turned out to be interesting.
     All but one of the cows stopped doing what cows in ponds do and stared at the weirdo in the silver VW who'd stopped for no reason. When someone stops driving on a dusty country road, it can be big news. After one shot, they went back to chewing their cud or whatever it was they were doing and paid no attention to me. I suppose I would've been more accepted if I were there to feed them.
     All I could think of was a caption for the photo ... maybe something out of The Far Side ... picturing the cows talking like inner-city toughs from West Side Story or something.
     "Hey, what choo starin' at? Ain't you ever seen no one in a bath before? This friggin' cow suit is hot, you mutha!"
      My meandering finally led to to J Highway, another rural road where you take your life in your hands if you're not paying attention. I'm OK with that. When I'm on these roads, I'm all eyes.

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