Wednesday, December 25, 2013
A Christmas Tail ... Monkton Chronicles
My first Christmas away from Illinois was in frozen Monkton, Vermont.
I moved here after urging by my roommate who subsequently left the material plane, leaving me no option but to carry forth our dream.
My new home was an apartment above a garage next door to a large dairy barn.
I was eager to see all the sights there, on an Addison County dairy farm as they were in 1981.
My new roommate milked cows and she left for Christmas holiday.
My inner city girl pined a little as I looked out at the drifting snow and watched the farmhands haul hay to the barn and haul the manure away.
The milk truck came.
Then nothing. No sound. Quiet...
I had never heard that before.
I went down to talk to the farmhand. His weathered face, his Vermont dialect, some words I missed,
I had to utilize what I call word averaging. Nod, Nod to get him to talk. But beware you don't want to nod indiscriminantly and accidentally agree to something self incriminating.
My questions were all about cows, what do they eat, do they kick? Are they smart?
The farmhand enjoyed being the expert and sharing his understanding of the world.
Around Christmas, the subject came up somehow.
"They kneel down," he said.
"What?" I sensed a profound moment coming...
"The cows, they kneel down at midnight on Christmas."
"What?" I said, longer, with my eyes closed, as if that could focus my inner vision.
Thus ensued a back and forth verbal dance with him playing me and me playing along.
I did not believe him...yet I did not want to refute this man, salt of the earth.
So I carried on, trying to stay warm, writing letters, trying to stay busy.
On Christmas eve, all alone,
the darkness came so early up this far north.
I had to,
I had to sneak down to the barn,
Why do barns look so different at night?
The creaky door handles are oiled last.
I hoped no dog would start barking.
My weak flashlight did not help much.
all the time me wondering why I was doing this.
I had to go downstairs to the main barn.
all the while my anxiety building,
it was so dark.
The cows patiently nodding in their stanchions,
were they kneeling?
Well truth be told that is when I lost my nerve,
my path of least resistance was straight back out of the barn
and straight into my warm humble bed,
having faith those cows were all kneeling down
like Walt had said,
in the barn