No bull: Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 12, 2003

I guess I could start this column out and talk about the weather like a good Minnesotan, but I think we’ve all had a chance to say our share about it this past week.

Spring is definitely here. The robins are singing and busily making their nests hoping to fend off the neighborhood cats long enough too raise a family. The mallards returning to the streets and yards of the south part of town can, in a much less celebrated way, be compared to the sparrows returning to Capistrano.

I often go for walks in the morning before work and it seems like the ducks are once again pairing up all over the south part of town. I have mentioned in other columns about how ducks and geese making this their year-around home has taken the edge off the feeling of excitement I used to get, as a youth, when seeing an animal in the wild.

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I am getting anxious to head north where there is still a lot of forest land and many secluded lakes. I guess in a sense it brings out the kid in me. The vastness of some of our forests in Northern Minnesota can still put a person in awe.

Spending time outdoors and spending time with family go hand in hand in my family. Fishing and camping are a big part of what makes us tick.

There were many times when I was growing up that I would ride bike to my friend Jim’s farm where we would play in the hay barn or hike to a nearby woods. He lived about a mile east of Hammer School and I lived a few blocks South on Bridge Ave.

Riding my bike to his house after school would be O.K, but coming back in the evening would sometimes be scary. There was a farm located on the hill about the same place the locker rooms for the football field are now, and the farmer, whose name was Joe, had a big old Holstein bull, and that was one mean bull.

When I rode by on my way home, it would usually around suppertime, and the farmer would be milking. That meant the bull would be in the pasture by himself. I think he was ready to take it out on anyone that came by when he couldn’t be spending time with his ladies.

Once he spotted you coming he would start bellering and pawing the ground and, sometimes, he would even take a run at the fence.

A person always had to have a plan of action when approaching the hill. Going to Jim’s house was pretty easy because you went down this big hill and could get up a real head of steam before the bull would notice you.

Coming back, that was another matter. The best plan was to get a run for it and hope you didn’t get noticed until you were well up the hill. I didn’t really think the bull would actually come through the fence, but chasing you on the other side was enough to get the blood pumping.

One day, while on my way home, the unthinkable happened. As I approached the smaller hill that led to the big hill, I spotted something on the road &045; cows! They had gotten out and were milling around in the middle of the road, and right in the thick of things, was my worst fear, that big bull. I froze in my tracks. I am sure I was sweating bullets.

I thought for a while and decided I had two choices. I could try to maneuver my bike through a herd of Holsteins and past the meanest bull in the county that seemed to take personal satisfaction in scaring the heck out of a chubby little kid on a bike, or I could do what most real farm kids would laugh at you for doing, and go back to Jim’s and call my dad.

I decided to try to sneak past the bull at first, but when I had gone only a few yards he turned around in the middle of the road and just stood there staring at me. I didn’t even give him a chance to start pawing or bellering because I was trying to set a new land speed record getting back to Jim’s to make that phone call.

It took quite a while for me to get over the vision of that huge bull standing there with a big ring in his nose just staring at me as I drove past him while riding in the family car.

I have always felt that there is a definite difference between brave and stupid and, looking back, I still feel I did the right thing by not trying to be either one.

In mentioning the word brave, I think we should once again take time to remember our brave service men and women who are serving our country.