Eleanor was a cow.

No metaphor for some under-satisfied, unfulfilled, middle-aged woman with a bone to pick with the men in her life, Eleanor was the bovine original, and quite happy. She lived on a dairy somewhere in cowboy territory, with the same herd she had always known, on brush she had chewed and pawed and chewed, again and again.

A narrow dirt road zigged around the periphery of the lot, and Eleanor liked to stand in the elbow of the road as it zagged around the house, which was not as old as it looked. She stood there, chewed, and watched the woman across the road. The woman–who was by no definition a “cow”–worked alone, sometimes pulling down mistletoe, sometimes hauling in baskets of blackberries. Sometimes she perched on the rocking chair around on the side porch, just beyond Eleanor’s line of sight until the chair began to tip forward in a gentle rhythm as the woman kept time, shelling pecans. The woman leaned into the pecan basket and scooped handful of nuts into her lap as she rocked forward, and then settled back to work and rock. Eleanor bowed her head at this meter, swung her head around, and nibbled at the road side, which was quiet, and empty. Eleanor was a cow, but she was not a wise old lady: she was observant, but eminently humble. She watched the bees rise up out of the roadside flower patch and overwhelm the sky. She flicked her tail. A car came around the bend.

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