It's a bit of a problem, I see a cow from my car window, I moo. And when I moo the girls moo also, or they used to. Over the past year the chorus of moo has shrunk to just one, although Eleanor occasionally utters some noise in response, a sleepy hound growl emitted from the very back of the car. Eleanor knows, cows are enchanting. Mary and Kate now barely look up from their Taro Gomi doodle books.
Given our home base deep in the mid-west, a geography that requires us to spend hours rolling through farmland en route to anywhere, we spend ample time listening to me moo, backed up only by my always faithful beagle. And then I see a barn, a wonderful old red barn set deep into the green countryside, surrounded by acres of corn, nestled amongst the swaying trees; I can smell the freshly cut hay from inside my air conditioned, and farm smell protected, car. "Girls look! A big red barn!", excited as though I didn't just scream the same thing two farms past. I quote from various parts of one of the very best children's books, Margaret Wise Brown's The Big Red Barn, "and there they were all safe and warm, sound asleep in the big red barn". It's a childhood moment they will certainly remember forever, these days spent in the comfort of their family, surrounded with love and moos and heartland.
Recently we drove through downstate Illinois, Missouri and Iowa. Cows aplenty, farms galore, I was in pure farmland heaven. Somewhere in Iowa, after countless unanswered moos and dismissed barn narrative, I tried once more, "oooh! Look at that beautiful old barn girls!".
"Wow mom, that is really pretty", answered Kate.
"Well thank you Kate", gushed her happy mother.
"Mary, I didn't even look" whispered Kate.
I thought I had a few more years.