Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mountain Cows

When I was a child, my family lived in California's San Joaquin Valley. My parents' favorite week-end trip was a two hour drive through the mountains to the coast. We'd have lunch, play in the ocean, stroll through the shops, then drive home.

I guess a person's not technically a flatlander, living in a valley surrounded by mountains, but the Pacific Coast Range up close did awe and inspire my nine-year-old self. Back then, California wasn't quite so paved. Genuine farmers used the sea side of the coastal hills for pasture.

To me, it seemed those mountains went straight up from base to top. So, I asked my mother, how it was those cows peacefully grazing up there, managed to stick to those steep mountain sides.

"Well," she said, "Those are special mountain cows. The legs on one side are shorter than those on the other."

That informational tidbit was tucked away in my nine-year-old brain, unquestioned and unexamined.

When I was 22, my sweetheart wanted a romantic location to propose marriage, so he drove us through the mountains to the coast.

As we passed one farmer's pasture I said to my sweetie, "See those cows. Those are special mountain cows. The legs on one side are shorter than those on the other."

My potential fiancé wasn't a flatlander or a Californian. He had never heard of such unusual heredity. He stared over at me and asked, "How do they get back to the barn? Do they have to walk all the way around the mountain?"

He thought I was kidding. I didn't realize I was. He believed I was quite a wit though, and married me anyway.

Abraham Lincoln said, you can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but he imagined the consequences of lying would ultimately catch up with the liar. So, when I told my mother about the man-eating marmots in Yellowstone Park, that was just fair play.

This post won a BEST OF HOLIDAILIES award.


  1. Man-eating marmot varmints? Where? OMG, they're headed this way! Run!!

  2. Oh, this story made me giggle madly. My dad did that to me SO MANY TIMES as a kid.

  3. Mountain cows? That's just the sort of answer my husband gives when one of our nephews asks him such a question. And he does it with a completely straight face. They sometimes believe him, but more often these days they laugh and call him silly Uncle Paul.

  4. margaret12:52 PM

    Did you know that on mountain cows, the side on which the shorter pair of legs is located differs depending on which way they face on the mountain? It's genetics.


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