Irish Blessing

Irish Blessing

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Curiosities of Nature

A farm provides an unending textbook of nature's curiosities. At first glance, this slumbering baby calf looks like others in this Class of 2018.
But a closer look reveals that it has six feet.
It has the normal four limbs and can still move around the pasture. But it also has two other hooves and perhaps an extra shoulder. Randy wonders if it began life as a twin, and the twin didn't develop.
When we were younger, the state fair's midway had a side show with a hawker declaring into a microphone, "Come see the two-headed calf! It will amaze you. It will confound you. Step right up!" The movie, "The Greatest Showman," featured a bearded lady, a “dog boy” who looks like a human Chewbacca, a little person, a mixed-race trapeze artist and conjoined twins - just to name a few.

If we truly look at history and not the colorful musical version, P.T. Barnum likely exploited those who were different than society's norm by putting them in a Museum of Oddities.
But, at a pasture on The County Line, the only crowd that sees this oddity of nature - this 6-footed calf - is a flock of geese that dots the sky like black embroidery thread in a blue and white tapestry.

Their "catcalls" join the gentle moos of two mama cows, who can't seem to decide which one is the true mother to this unusual baby.
They focus on the smell of the calf, not its unusual appearance.

We don't know what will happen. Will it live? Could there be internal abnormalities that will cause its death? It's possible.

I've thought a lot about this calf since I walked away from it in the pasture. As I sat at my computer, trying to figure out a politically-correct way to write about it, I remembered a song from "The Greatest Showman."

In "This Is Me," the overreaching message is that it is our differences that make us special.   The song, which has been nominated for an Academy Award, could serve as an anthem for the marginalized, disenfranchised, the bullied and the outcast.

Just some of the words say:

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me.

Sunday evening, I watched the calf run and play with other calves in the pasture. (I should have shot a video. Maybe next time.) Its mother is taking care of it, and it appears to be thriving, in spite of its differences.

This little calf may not make it to adulthood. And, if it does, it won't bring top dollar at a sale barn. But maybe there's still a lesson to be learned in this dusty pasture, with only the geese above as my witnesses. Maybe the world would be a better place if we looked at people with a mother's eye instead of listening to the cacophony of voices that criticize and tear us down. It's worth considering, don't you think?

Another school shooting happened last week. This time, 17 people lost their lives in Florida. In the days after the shooting, I am discouraged by my Facebook feed. The hate doesn't just rain down in bullets in classrooms. It is perpetuated when people disagree with one another. Don't get me wrong: It's OK to disagree. But instead of honoring another's opinion and maybe thinking about something differently, people stand on their soap boxes and pontificate. No matter their "side" in the debate, they put down those who dare to disagree with them. I can almost "hear" the shouting as I scroll past another long thread of "conversation" typed into cyberspace, filled with words that denigrate the "other's" thoughts and seem to imply how "stupid" the other's opinion is.

Maybe I'm grasping for meaning in unlikely places. But it seems to me that we can do better. We can celebrate differences. We can see value in all people - whether their opinions line up exactly like ours or not.

I can dream, can't I?


  1. Awwww...the sweet calf! Makes me want to protect it like crazy!
    I've never seen anything like it! The most "odd" thing we've ever had was a calf born without a tail.

    1. It is a sweet calf. It likes to be petted.

  2. I saw The Greatest Showman just over a week ago and can relate to your words wholeheartedly.
    I've just read 'The Awakening of HK Derryberry" by Jim Bradford with Andy Hardin, a true story of HK's life growing up in Tennesssee. Blind from birth with cerebral palsy, his very sad life changed when Jim chose to sit with him in a cafe one Saturday morning, when he was 9 years of age. He is now an exceptional young man.
    I totally agree re your Facebook comments.
    Having just watched the news, I am heartened by the student marches now taking place after the shootings.

    1. I loved the musical, Did you like it? I will have to look for the book. It's amazing what impact a little bit of kindness can have on someone else, and, conversely, the damage we do - often intentionally - with our words and actions.

    2. I loved the musical, especially as my choir are at present singing This is Me and Never Enough. I can now sing them with so much more feeling.
      Dfinitely find the book.
      How is your book reading project progressing?

  3. Kim, I am reluctant to speak up on facebook, but a few days ago I could no longer remain quiet and appealed, just as you have, for all of us to bring forth our better natures an speak respectfully and thoughtfully to one another to find solutions to the problems our nation is facing. We share the reluctance to join in the facebook back-and-forth, but if those of us seeking calmly reasoned discussions remain quiet, who is there to remind Americans we are better than what seems to be happening now? Thank you for your post.

    1. I apologize for not seeing this sooner. It's hard to know what to do. I don't want to be part of the contentiousness. However, it's also important to try and be part of the solution. That was one reason for my post.