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.