Harvest was over. There were things to do, but nothing as hectic as June and July had been.
Most days I had time to take a walk from the house to the Baseline Road (a half mile) then east on the Baseline another half mile and then back to the house. A leisurely two-mile walk. At least, most days it was leisurely.
One afternoon I set out walking and talking to the red-winged blackbird that flew from one perch to another on the phone line and sang to me as we went along. Suddenly I spied movement in the deep barrow ditch [research] on the other side of the road. I stopped. Slowly, a monstrous dark brown bull—there was no doubt that he was a bull—rose from the ditch, swung his head toward me, and stared. I guessed I had interrupted his nap.
“Oh, shit,” I thought. “Should I stand still or run back to the house?” Neither of those options seemed to fit the situation. The only possible shelter was the telephone pole about thirty feet away “Can I get there if he charges?” I wondered. “And how long would I be able to run round and round that pole before he got me?” My blackbird was still singing—easy for him, he wasn’t on the ground.
I took a slow step toward the pole. Then another. His head turned with my movement as I slowly walked toward the pole. Slow steps, listening for a snort, always keeping an eye on the bull but trying not to look him in the eye. No challenges from me. I got to the pole and peeked out from behind it. He had turned around but not moved from his spot in the ditch. So I kept walking from pole to pole and then east on the Baseline Road—my usual route, continuing to keep looking behind me.
When I came back the bull was gone.
I told Marvin about the encounter. “That’s our neighbor, Parker’s, bull. He’s pretty old.”
“Who,” I Asked. “Parker or the bull?”
He considered this. ”Both, I think.”
A few days later we were in the coffee shop in town and heard that the bull had died. I guess I scared him to death, but I didn’t tell anyone about it for a long, long time.