Tag Archives: meadow

The Cows Came Home


Last season there were cows in the meadow bordering my campground–not just one or two cows, but a lot of cows. How many cows does it take to make a herd? I don’t know, but I think there was probably an entire herd in the meadow.

For most of this season, only a couple of cows spent time in the meadow, and only briefly. That was in June. Both cows were black. One was huge and had a white face. The other was smaller–maybe a teenage cow. They looked at me inquisitively as I walked by on the dirt road leading to the campground. The cows were gone the next day. I have no idea where they went.

Last season, the cows in the meadow chomped down all the grass and either ate or trampled the corn lilies. If any wildflowers began to grow, the cows ate them before they bloomed. Those cows kept the vegetation short. Last summer, the meadow looked as if it had been mowed.

Corn lilies growing in the meadow.

Corn lilies growing in the meadow.

This summer, the lack of cows in the meadow has lead to glorious grassiness. The grass has grown tall (above my knees). The corn lilies are tall too. Also, wildflowers are flourishing in the meadow. There are white flowers I think are  Queen Anne’s Lace. There are orangey-yellow flowers with brown middles–what we called brown-eyed Susies when I was a kid. There are purple flowers too, but I don’t know their name.


Brown-eyed Susies

I enjoyed having the cows around last summer. They were nice to look at, and it was comforting to hear them going about their bovine business at night. Sometimes I talked to them when I was particularly lonely. However, I’m also enjoying this summer’s beautiful meadow view. (I can almost understand why Californians are so damn fond of their meadows.)

Last year the cows moved in late in June or possibly in July. This season, June came and went, then July did the same and all I’d seen of the cows were the two black ones who seemed to have only spent one night in the meadow. Then one evening during the second week in August, there was another brief bovine visit.

It was dusk. I was sitting on the floor of my van with the side doors open. I was making a hat and listening to a podcast when a noise outside my campsite caught my attention. There was one set of campers in the campground, with a site way on the other side, but the kids had been running around the whole place all evening. I figured it was them I was hearing. But when I looked up, I didn’t see any children.

I saw creatures–big creatures–ambling in my direction. At first I thought the creatures were horses (and I imagined they were being ridden by cowboys), but pretty quickly, I realized I was seeing cows!

There were four of them. Three were all black, but one had the all white face I’d seen earlier in the summer. They were on the road, heading in my direction. They were moving at a steady pace, not running, but moving briskly. I said something like Hello ladies, and they froze. I hadn’t yelled, just spoken in a normal tone of voice. That apparently was enough to stop them in their tracks.

I wanted a photo of them, but I knew it was too dark for the camera on my phone to produce a visible image. I also knew that moving around to find my real camera probably would make these shy, half-wild mountain cows nervous enough to leave. No way would they stick around for another photo once the flash went off. So I sat tight.

The cows regarded me calmly, but with suspicion. I watched them, curious to see what they would do next. Long minutes passed while we looked at each other.

One of the campers must have been in the nearby restroom because a door slammed, and the noise was loud in the quiet of the evening. Three of the cows bolted. Their hooves thundered in the dirt as they ran toward the meadow. It was a very small stampede!

The fourth cow didn’t seem bothered by the noise. It didn’t run at all, but instead followed slowly behind the others.

I don’t know where the cows went, but I didn’t hear them in the meadow later in the night.

The next day when I came back from the parking lot, I saw four cows near the front of the meadow. Where these the cows of the night before? Had they broken off from a larger group to form their own herd?

The cows were gone again the next day. I haven’t seen them since.

Cows in the meadow, summer 2015.

Cows in the meadow, summer 2015.


I took all of the photos in this post.


Creepy Lady


It was the 4th of July, and while the parking lot was busy, it wasn’t the circus it had been the day before. We’d gotten to the point in the morning where my co-worker and I tell drivers to find a place to park, then pay us the parking fee on their way to the trail. We don’t want drivers to pay us, then demand their money back when they can’t find a parking spot.

The woman was driving a big pickup truck. She seemed to be alone, which was unusual, but not unheard of. (Most people come with friends or family, but some folks walk the trail alone.)

When I told the woman to park before she paid me, she acted as if I were doing her a huge personal favor. I was glad she was appreciative, but I wasn’t doing anything special for her; I treated her just like I’d treat anyone who rolled into the parking lot when I was unsure if there were a space for a new vehicle.

It wasn’t long before she was standing in front of me to pay her parking fee.

Oh, you found a spot to park? was the unimaginative greeting I used on her (and probably 30 other people that day) when she presented herself to pay.

Yes! she said and pointed over to her truck, which was easily visible from where I stood. She started gushing about how great her parking spot was, on the pavement and everything.

She took her money out of a soft suede wallet with fringe. As I got her change, she said, So what’s that meadow over there?

The back edge of the parking lot is bordered by a meadow. I know three things about the meadow:

a) it exists

b) a picnic table is located there

c) cars can’t park in it

This photo shows the meadow the woman questioned me about.

This photo shows the meadow the woman questioned me about.

My first impulse to her question was to say It’s a meadow. I figured that was a little too smart-ass because obviously she knew it was a meadow. But honestly, I couldn’t think of a single interesting thing to say about it. I managed to stammer that I thought it was part of the meadow joining the campground and the parking lot.

When I told the woman she didn’t have to put the day pass in her vehicle, she said, I think I’m going to check out that meadow!

Great! I said, I don’t really understand people who get excited about a bunch of grass, but to each his/her own. My attitude was Enjoy the meadow, ma’am.

None of the behavior I’ve described earned the lady a description of “creepy.” She was a little odd, acted a bit too familiar, but was well within the social norms of my comfort zone. It was her behavior as she was leaving the parking lot that I found creepy.

Every other week, I got to Babylon on my day off. I usually spend the night in Babylon, then head up the mountain late the second day. However, the post office where I pick up my mail is only open from 8am to noon, which limits my time in town on my second day off. Plus it’s so damn hot in the valley, which makes sleeping in the van quite uncomfortable. So I’d been scouting out places in the forest not far from my post office where I could spend the night in the cool mountain air.

I asked my co-worker who lives in the area year round if he could recommend any places that fit the description of what I was looking for. When he described a place he thought would work, I was delighted to realize it was a place I’d been looking at from the highway and wondering about. Apparently there was a creek behind where I’d seen campers parked and even pools of water back there. Score!

So back to the creepy lady…

Before she left the parking lot, she stopped her big pickup truck near where I was sitting and said, I heard you talking about BlahBlah Creek.

I was so surprised, I didn’t even know what to say. I’d had no idea that woman was anywhere in the area while my co-worker and I were discussing the creek. He and I had not been shouting. We’d been speaking in normal conversational tones. How had that woman heard us talking about the creek? Where had she been standing to eavesdrop on us? And how weird that she was admitting to me she’d been listening in, as if her behavior weren’t invasive and socially unacceptable.

I stood there thinking What the fuck?!?

She continued to chatter as if we were old friends.

I’ve never been down that road, she said, which confused me further, as I wondered how she knew about the creek if she’d never been down the road it is on. (My co-worker explained when I related this story to him, there is also a BlahBlah Creek Road, which is nowhere near the camping spot the creepy lady heard us discussing.)

What are you going to do there? she asked.

Hang out, I said. Avoid my boss. (I was planning on going there on my day off, after all.)

Then the creepy woman smiled sweetly and said, You should probably bring your head net, implying mosquitoes were going to eat me up.

I slept near BlahBlah Creek the next night and spent part of the following day there. I didn’t see a single mosquito, and more importantly, I didn’t see the creepy lady. Hopefully she forgot all about me, but if not, at least she was looking for me in the wrong place.


Flowers in the meadow

I took all of the photos in this post.


Cows in the Meadow


Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn.
The sheep’s cow’s in the meadow…

For my day off on Tuesday, I went halfway to civilization where I pick up my mail. The post office is in a building with a restaurant, bar, general store, and gift shop. The building has internet access, so on my days off when I don’t want to deal with the heat and people in Babylon, I go twenty-five miles, buy a cup of coffee and a meal, and spend eight or nine hours using the internet. The food is decent (not great, but decent), and there’s one booth with an electrical outlet next to it. I’ve gotten friendly with the woman who’s the waitress and the cook all morning, and we chitchat a little when she comes by to see if I need anything. There’s never been a crowd any day I’ve been in there, so no one seems to mind if I take up a whole table for a whole day.

It was after five o’clock when I packed up and headed out on Tuesday afternoon, so it was close to 6pm when I got to my campground.

The first thing I noticed upon arrival was that the half of the gate still standing at the entrance to the campground was blocking half of the road. I stopped the van and got out to investigate.

Sometime back (I don’t know when exactly), a huge tree fell and smashed half of the gate, which is meant to block the access road when the campground is closed in the winter.


This photo shows the tree that fell and destroyed half of the gate into my campground. The brown metal pieces are the remains of the gate. The gate seems to have been made of strong and sturdy metal, and the tree just SMASHED it when it fell onto it.


This photo shows the side of the gate that’s still standing and is tied to a thin-branched bush with yellow plastic “caution” tape.

To hold open the half of the gate that’s still standing, someone had tied yellow plastic “caution” tape to the gate and to a thin-branched bush.

What I found when I surveyed the scene was that the “caution” tape had broken and allowed the gate to swing across the road. I swung the gate out of the roadway and managed to tie the remainder of the tape to the gate, holding it out of the way.

I’d only driven a little ways down the road when I looked to my left and in the meadow saw faces–cow faces! By cows I mean cattle. I’m guessing they were females because I don’t think bulls usually run around with the ladies, but I did not check bovine genitalia.

There seemed to be a lot of faces staring at me, but I didn’t get a head count.

I had an idea that if cows were in the meadow, their people must be in the campground, but when I got to the campground, I found it deserted.

I wasn’t sure what to do. Bovine invasion had not been covered in our training. Was it ok for them to be in my meadow? Did I need to report their presence, and if so, to whom? I figured my best course of action was to drive the three miles back to the neighboring campground and ask the other camp hosts what I should do.

The other camp hosts didn’t seem worried about the cows and said I didn’t need to report them to anyone. The man half of the camp host couple said he’d worked on a ranch. He told me these were half wild mountain cows who don’t see people much. It seems like they’re turned out to fend tor themselves during the dry summer months, then are probably rounded up for the winter. These are probably some of the same cows I’ve seen on the road on my way to and from the hot springs.

The camp host man said I shouldn’t let myself get between a mamma cow and her calf. He said a mamma cow separated from her calf could be as dangerous as a mamma bear separated from her cub.

He also said if the cows were bothering me, he’d come and chase them away.

The cows were not bothering me. I just needed to know if I should report their location. And I’m not scared of cows! My uncle raised cows when I was a kid, and I’ve been around cows, petted them above the nose and between their eyes. I’ve even been licked by big sloppy cow tongue. And while I wasn’t going to trek into the meadow to try to pet a half-wild mountain cow, I think I could make enough noise to scare them away if they came up to my van and bothered me.

The cows are actually rather shy. I wanted some photos of them to include with this post, so I grabbed my camera. Like reclusive Hollywood stars, they turned their faces, then shuffled into the trees on the perimeter of the meadow. Like a paparazza destined for failure, I gave up after a few blurry shots.


One of my blurry shots of shy cows.

On Friday evening, a couple of young women (who were perhaps a couple) checked into the campground. I told them about the cows (which I had seen over the ensuing days but had failed to photograph). As the women headed to the meadow on a late afternoon walk, I heard noise from the area. The noise was too loud to have been caused by two skinny humans, so I figured I must be hearing the cows. Sure enough, when I looked that way, several shy bovines were hustling into the trees, but one bold black one stood out in the open and stared at the two young women.


A bold black cow. (I took this photo a few days after the events written about in this post.)

As we all stood still, an amazing thing happened. Cow after cow came out of the trees. They strode away in single file. The cows in the line walked away slowly but purposefully. Where they were going, I don’t know, but they seemed to have a destination in mind.

I didn’t dash to get my camera. I was afraid sudden movement on my part would cause cow consternation, and I didn’t want to upset anyone. Maybe I’ll get another chance at photos. Or maybe we’ll only have a couple of blurry cow photos to look at.


I took this photo of cows in the meadow a few days after the events written about in this post occurred. There were about twenty cows in the meadow when I took this photo. I had to  use the zoom on my camera to get this shot. I could not get close enough to the cows to get better photos. Whenever they heard my footsteps, they looked up at me. If I got too close, the cows moved farther away.



Two bold cows. While most of the cows in the meadow were black, there were a couple of light brown ones. Some of the black cows had white faces.



I saw a lot of cow butts much like this one while I was trying to take these photos.


All photos in this post were taken by me.

All photos in this post were taken by me.