Stopping for Cows on a Rainy Morning

I am the first to admit that I am a lousy driver. I am intolerant, hypocritical, foul-mouthed and given to issuing a wide range of gestures, some of them quickly recognisable and some that I have made up myself.

One of the problems of living in a small town is that you can easily offend people, a hasty offensive sign, a mouthed swear word is issued and delivered before you have clocked that the person on the receiving end is someone who you know.

When I am behind the wheel, I am quickly offended, quick to anger, and intolerant of others mistakes. My mistakes? I rarely make mistakes.

And I often give offence.

This particular morning we were heading out of Buxton to give the dogs a change of scenery and the chance to run off the lead for a while.

The rain was slanting across the road at forty-five degrees. It was a slippery, slick, black strip, with leaves and branches scattered along the verge. Ahead I could just about make out the red tail lights of the car in front.

We did not make much progress.

The traffic ahead was stopped and in the early morning gloom, I could see that it was because of a herd of cows slowly squelching their way back to the field after milking.

They looked sullen and resentful as they were entitled to look. Behind and to the side, farm hands huddled into second hand waterproofs cajoled them and encouraged them to keep moving.

Occasionally one cow would stop, causing the ones behind to stop as well. While the bovine pile up sorted itself out, she would look around and glare at the waiting motorists. I guess it was for her a small rebellion, and act of defiance for the awful life that we forced her and her kind to lead. She did not stop for long and soon she resumed her slow amble into the field.

It was not much of a field, to be honest. There was little grass and many patches of mud, so before long they would be going into their winter shed. Sheltered from the elements, but denied the fresh air and grass that come the spring they would seek out again with such joy and delight.

I felt a wave of empathy for them. Let the cows take as long as they needed poor things.

As the herd cleared the road, the traffic coming the other way streamed towards us. But we did not move. Of course some selfish idiot wanted to turn right so we had to wait for the oncoming traffic to clear.

Anger and frustration simmered away at the thoughtlessness of other drivers.

In the field, the cows started to chomp away at the meagre grasses.

The oncoming traffic cleared and the idiot turned right, and we resumed our journey, me clutching the wheel a little too tightly, trying not to swear.

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