Sunday, December 03, 2006

Rosemary the Cow

At some point in my childhood or early adolescence, I arrived at the idea that it would be a good thing for me to have a cow one day when the time was right.

It had nothing to do with the phrase “have a cow” that was heard so often for a while.

No, I really thought it would be good for me to own and be responsible for a cow. I suppose repeated readings of James Herriot books had something to do with it, along with Laura Ingalls Wilder being a part of my life.

The thing was, I knew that you had to milk a cow every morning, no matter what. Cold weather, rain, even waking up with a headache could not stop you from milking the cow, or else it would be very bad for the cow.

And I also knew that I struggled with being disciplined.

So, it just made sense to me that being responsible for a cow’s wellbeing was the answer. It would force me to develop a regular routine and be disciplined and committed to it, and I figured this would help transform my character and eventually affect my discipline in other areas of life. (The old-fashioned-ness of it appealed to me, as well. I also recall in fourth grade vowing that I would never have a computer or microwave in my house, the way the Weekly Reader was predicting people would.)

Fast forward to the present.

I haven’t yet had that little house in the country that would make adopting a cow possible. And I haven’t yet become the disciplined person I want to be.

A week or more ago I was shopping at Wild Oats and saw the most precious little rosemary bushes trained to grow like small Christmas trees. I immediately loved them for their Christmas-y look, their Italian connection, and their pungent aroma.

I went over to read the attached card. Among other things it said, “If kept in pot must be watered daily.”

I almost walked away.

But then I thought, “Here is my cow! Rosemary the cow!”

And I brought Rosemary home. She has been staying in my office, the sunniest room in the house. And I’ve been watering her every day.

Every day, that is, until . . . well, umm . . . I’m not sure exactly which day I managed to forget. I know it’s been at least two days. This evening I looked at her and was stricken to see drooping ends all over and some brown areas. I nearly had a cow, if you’ll pardon the expression.

Now her roots are in a bowl of water overnight as I seek to repair the damage. I just hope this little operation will go as well as some of James Herriott’s did. I feel bad about it, and I wonder how it is that I have twelve other houseplants that have been living for several years. I guess it’s because they don’t require daily watering. And it’s that grace at work in the universe, keeping things from going as badly as they ought.

So, whether it’s keeping a plant alive, or keeping my own soul alive, I’m thankful for new beginnings and the grace that keeps us going even when we neglect that daily care.


Lisa said...

Somehow, I cannot imagine a world where you are even more disciplined. . .

Maybe someday Rosemary the cow and Rosemary the pig can meet. I still have her somewhere.

jnmthw said...

You need to publish this one, I mean somewhere out there- other than the blog world! You just made me smile real big, inside and out! I can just picture you at 12 years old, vowing a scetic existance in peace and tranquility, milking your cow as you go for your daily prayers:) Love you sister! Take care of that Rosemary of yours!
ps ...ok, for a girl with a now thick southern accent but who really grew up in Italy, what does 'have a cow' mean?

Sheila said...


You mean you have Rosemary the pig??? I was going to include her in the story but thought it would get too long. Remind me, how did she come to live with you?

Maybe I'll write another blog about her. All kinds of angles.

And, oh, my. If you think I am disciplined, it's only because you lived with me during my obsessive-compulsive years. And there's a difference between being obsessive and living by healthy discipline.

No, I was driven and committed, but not disciplined. Except in piano practice. I think that was it.

Lisa said...

I believe that I do still have Rosemary the pig but I haven't looked for her yet. I bought Rosemary at Searcy's original Wal-Mart one year after Christmas. Don't know what inspired the purchase. I guess I was just at a stuffed animal stage of life.

I stuck her on my bed, starting sleeping with her each night, and before you know it, she had traveled all over the United States with me. Chorus trips, mission trips, family trips to Tennessee and Georgia. Rosemary was one traveling gal! She got a lot of action on the chorus trips too! Everyone knew to look out for her.

She moved into the dorm with me and I was afraid that she'd join me in marrying Keith, but thankfully I convinced myself that a living, breathing MAN was a better option than a pink stuffed pig.

Keith's still happy about that.

Sheila said...

Well, this is something. I didn't even know that you had named that pig Rosemary.

I was referring to a paper mache' project from sixth grade, a yellow and pink pig that I made and named Rosemary.

I know I didn't throw her away, because she was too cute; so I thought maybe I had given her to you.

Sheila said...

Good question! To "have a cow" is something like to become very upset over something.

E.g., "Mom, don't have a cow. All I did was come home an hour late."

Or, "When that car ran the redlight and was coming straight at us, I thought I was going to have a cow."

It sounds bizarre now, but we used to say it quite a lot, as I recall.

Lisa said...

Oh, yes! I do remember your Rosemary. I named my Rosemary after her because she was pink and was a pig.

Lawrence Underwood said...

Wow, talk about a walk down memory lane. Lisa, do you remember Rosemary's lynching? Please forgive my adolescent fascination with torturing you via your pig. I recall both Rosemarys.

Hey do you remember my nameless bear. You know the one with the strange orange eyes and orange and black plaid patches on the paws? Well, guess what. It is now my little ones favourite. Funny, she didn't take to my 'Batman'.

Sheila said...

Yes, I remember your bear, Lawrence. I'm glad he is alive and well.

So, does either of you have any idea what happened to my old dog? She sat on my bed through high school and college, but sometime after I left the country, she vanished.

Is it possible that one of you has her by mistake?

Lawrence Underwood said...

I remember, but I don't know where it is. Perhaps we should put out posters.