Day Of The Beasts (Part 2)
And still more on the Stockyards of Fort Worth.
We drifted down the street in search of a spot where we could sit and watch What Was Coming. We needed someplace with a seat, so Martha could actually rest, but we also needed something with shade. It was already getting hot, and even with our hats and sunblock, we could feel the sun on our skin.
The crowd was building up. People were gathering on the walk. Some were pressing forward into the street. A master of ceremonies on a loud speaker asked everyone to stand back…pointing out that it wasn’t safe. But, some individuals ignored him, and Stockyard employees had to come by and urge everyone back.
We discovered a convenient spot in front of a building known as the “Cowtown Coliseum,” which really was, at one time, a show place and a venue for attractions, like rodeos. In fact, it is still that. It is defined, now, as a“multi-purpose arena.”
Anyway, it has a lawn and picnic tables along the street, and we settled at one. It had a bit of shade from a number of trees, and a bit of breeze. We got our camera phones ready, and waited.
Every day, twice a day, at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm, there is a cattle drive down East Exchange street. A small band of longhorn cattle is driven by actual cowboys and cowgirls along the street from one pen to (I assume) another.
The herd came now. The MC introduced them and their drivers. It wasn’t exactly thrilling. They weren’t running. This was no Pamplona. There were no suicidal or merely stupid young men (and women) throwing themselves in front of the animals. Thank God.
If it wasn’t exciting, it was impressive. They are enormous animals…huge! Like something prehistoric. Like Pleistocene megafauna. Aurochs, perhaps. Or, even, well, go way further back. Go all the way to triceratops. Or, to sum it all up, the long-horns were…honestly…kind of awe-inspiring. And, as God is my witness, you felt the earth tremble each time a hoof hit the ground. Or, at least, you felt you ought to feel it tremble.
And then there were the horns. They were amazing. Great, curving scimitars of horn. Longer than a man’s arm, and very sharp. As the animals moved, placidly along, their heads bobbed up and down…all so terribly peaceful…but you knew, if you got in front of one of those massive creatures, and for some reason it swung its massive head…
It would be the end of you. Right then and there.
Impressive, but kind of sad...
Okay, honestly, I’m going to say that it was kind of a downer. I mean, it was depressing. The animals were enormous, but they were slow and ponderous. And they displayed no excitement on their way. (Martha said later it wasn’t so much a “run” as a “mosey.”)
And, frankly, there is something sad about them. Here are creatures meant to gallop on the plains, spending their lives as tourist attractions, moving up and down a street, twice a day, every day, except on holidays and special occasions.
Yet…and yet…maybe that is truer for more of us humans than we care to admit. How many of us have spent our lives in similarly confined situations...only we are herded by invisible drivers, economics and society . At least the steers of the Stockyard had the faint glory of being the center of attention twice a day. It isn’t much, but maybe more than many of us get.
After a few minutes, and with one last, vast rumble, the herd moved past us, and was gone.
Martha and I looked at each other. We had both gotten videos of the moving animals. I’ll post a link to mine below. We compared them and what photos we had taken.
Then we were quiet.
“Well,” Martha said.
“Yes,” I said.
“Let’s go shopping,” she concluded.
I nodded. Because, of course, that’s what you do, when you’ve just seen Pleistocene megafauna and don’t know how to process the situation…not when the creatures were so big, so calm, and yet, in spite of their tranquility, somehow terrifying.
More to come.
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