If I had but one animal life to live, would I choose to live it as a Texas longhorn? Could I birth my babies between the mesquite and the stony stream? Would I know where the best grass is to eat? Would I get tired of eating and re-eating, chewing and re-chewing? Would I have to think about which stomach to swallow to?
Perhaps not many of us humans have thought much about coming back to earth as a cow in another existence. It might be too stolid. The bulls might be rough. I see that I can imagine more coming back as a cow than as a bull, perhaps claiming my sexual identity more strongly than my species identity. Or maybe this is not a line of thinking worth pursuing.
But if it were ordained that I must return to life as a bovine, then I would want to be a female on the Double Helix Ranch, on the northwestern edge of the Texas Hill Country. I would be one of the reddish heavily spotted ones, since I have freckles in my human form and once had identifiably ginger hair. I would have hundreds of acres to wander. I could stick to the red hollows, or climb for the view. I would hear the ravens and the hummingbirds. I would flush the bobwhite. With my huge horns, I would keep the cougars and coyotes from my wet calves. I would keep those babies just about as long as I wanted to, seeing them wander out of sight only long after another one arrived, when I was tired of their vigorous udder butting. I would recognize the song of the lark sparrow and the black-crested titmouse. I might shelter under the large live oak along with the shy Eastern towhee. I would not be bothered by rattlesnakes, or by the scorpions sheltering under my droppings.
I would not remember the glorious and confused history of my breed. I would not know exactly how much Indian blood pumped through my large arteries. I would not even know I was in Texas. But I would not have to think twice about that sense of place the foolish humans long for. I would be in my place. I would feel the soft wind. I would shelter from the heat and the sleet. I would pass each day in the same open air, happy as a Texas longhorn.
written at the Double Helix Ranch Writer’s Retreat