When I was a boy, smaller than I am now
I may have been seven, or eight, no more than nine
I was about to undertake the most significant challenge of my life
It was 10am on a Tuesday in January. It was hot and sticky.
I wore green shorts, a purple t-shirt, orange thongs and a white terry towelling hat. I looked great if I may say myself.
I walked to the east paddock where cows and bulls were resting in the morning sun.
The paddock was on the border of our neighbours the Coleman’s. They were a nice family, hippies, they drove an blue Volvo.
I remember during bob-a-job week for the scouts. Mum negotiated on my behalf to mow the Coleman’s lawn for a dollar. I pushed our hand mower across the east paddock, through the main gate to the Coleman’s house. No one told me that the lawn was one and a half aces in size. It took me four hours to conquer the beast that was their lawn. Mrs Coleman brought ice cold cordial to me on the first and third hour. Never again I said to myself, the scouts were not worth the effort. I made a pact with myself to never allow mum to negotiate on my behalf again, she short changed me.
Back to the cows and bull in the east paddock.
I walked up to the heard, they were grazing on the lush clover. The bull was surrounded by cows, maybe ten or twelve. It was as though he was being protected by his loved ones. I needed to isolate him from the group. I did this by walking directly into the middle of the heard. The cow’s fled, leaving him standing on his own. This set the stage for my significant challenge.
He was a Poll Hereford bull, brown and white, twelve-hundred-kilograms, and standing one and half metres tall. His name was Springfield-Vanguard, as majestic as a lion and as graceful as a dressage horse.
I slowly walked at a safe distance around him, as to not disturb him grazing. He knew I was there, we made eye contact for a brief moment. I am sure he gave me a smile; I respectfully returned the gesture.
My significant challenge was to run under his belly in the hope he wouldn’t move and crush my fragile body. I had never set a challenge of this magnitude for myself before. A boy of seven, or eight, no more than nine could conquer a beast of the paddock.
This challenge would take timing and inner strength to run under the twelve-hundred-kilogram Springfield-Vanguard.
I stood approximately three metres from my challenge. Slowly breathing and focussing. I counted down from fifty, forty-nine, thirty five, twenty-seven. My heart was racing. I felt slightly giddy. Nineteen, fourteen, eight. I can’t do this, oh yes you can, I can’t do this, I kept saying to myself. Five, four, three. I positioned myself in a running stance, left leg forward, with all my weight on my right ready to push off. Two, one and a half, one and a quarter, one.
I moved with lightning speed, diving under his belly, rolling with a twist, and landing on my feet.
There was a moment of silence between us, maybe for a minute or so.
Springfield-Vanguard turned to me and said ‘well done young man, I am so pleased I could help you with you’re significant challenge’.
I was a little taken back by him speaking to me. ‘Thankyou for helping me’ I said
‘What is you’re name young man?’ he said
‘It is Martin, I live in the big house with my family.’ I said
‘Martin, I live in this paddock with my family too. I have twenty-five children and the heard of cows that I care for and protect’ He said
‘I am an old bull now and my duty is to continue role as the elder statesmen of the farm.’ he said
‘Martin, always live you’re dreams and continue to challenge yourself every day. This will give you a firm grounding to become a fine young man.' He said
I would visit Springfield-Vanguard every day in the east paddock. The relationship we built was one of a grandfather and grandson. He would speak of wisdom and provide advice where I needed it.
We left the farm and moved to suburbia two years later.
I felt an emptiness deep inside me for many years, however, the pain eased when I recalled the time we spent together.
I am fifty now, and upon reflection, the innocence of youth guided me to be anything I wanted to be.
Springfield-Vanguard would always say ‘the only constraint we have in life is ourselves.’
“Goodbye dear friend, you will always be in my heart’