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Rated: E · Prose · Contest Entry · #2242280
New Year, new hope; same old, same old chores. Senior Centre contest Jan 2021
It all sounded so simple in the euphoria and afterglow of the late, late night of the New Year’s Eve party. In the final, drooping hours before the ultimate party-goers faded as sensible folk do, I’d announce I planned to milk our cows BEFORE going to bed, airily announcing, “I can milk our ‘girls’ alone. No worries. Do it every year.” And then I’d preen some in the glow of self-righteousness, of once again opening the future on the right foot (and in the right rubber boots!).

Not for me the sweet seduction of bed for a few hours and then up and at ‘em. When final and total retirement happened AFTER this chore, I planned many dedicated hours of R&R, in the supreme knowledge of having already gone above and beyond the call of duty in the light of the first sunrise of the year. It all sounded so easy in the alcohol assisted euphoria of the late, late night. This condition also contributed to me finding it no real chore at all to peel off my finery and crawl into my ‘real’ glam stuff — overalls, beanie and those rubber boots — and head off into the twilight zone of those wee small hours.

Bringing our girls in from the paddock was no bind by bright moonlight — or with an invaluable searching torch beam some darker mornings. The cows entered the novelty of this pre-dawn happening; never known to object to an early morning call promising to break up a boring night. After all, they hadn’t partied.

Way before the first sun gradually lightened the sky before peeping over the collar of the world, I was up milking cows. This was the scene that repeated. Every. Single. New Year’s morning. Piece of cake. Gorgeous to be up and witnessing that first, almost imperceptible lightening of the horizon. Deep breaths… ahh… who’d be in bed at a time like this?

All went well - for a while. I even found time for a momentary fantasy of a triumphant walk back home, with the first of the 700+ milkings of the year out of the way. Done and dusted, I scoffed! I walked beneath a romantic, mystical archway through my own ‘Secret Garden’. Melodious bird songs competed with scents of the sweetest blossoms for dominance of my senses. Delicate rays of the New Year’s first sun filtered through shady green trees, a soft breeze whispered through the boughs, caressing my face, delighting my heart and soul with the joy of being alive - part of Nature’s amazing charms—

But in the flick of a tail, reality returned with a vengeance. Stinking Gertrude—or one of her sisters in crime—almost contacted me bodily in an unmentionable but most unpleasant place when she tried to kick the cups away. Just ducking to avoid her lethal aim could put more than a few important body bits all but out of commission. Strange as it may seem, my reflexes were slowing for some bizarre reason. Exhaustion winning through? Was that the sudden aching through my back? Old age wasn’t a possibility… not then!

“Bitch!” I muttered, trying valiantly to hold on to my evaporating dream. The entire time frame of this chore had changed, dragging at a painful, slow-mo rate. Counting the cows still waiting outside didn’t help; only emphasising the enormity of my task. Straining my ears over the throbbing and wheezing of the milking machine to hear the time on the radio in between blaring out the girls’ favourite easy listening music occasionally made a difference… but rarely. Surely another half hour had passed without me noticing? P-l-e-a-s-e, I begged fervently. But no. Time, she was a-passing in her own sweet rhythm, as every other day of every other year would. Already, that painful fact of life was bearing down on me… in great leaps and bounds!

Cleaning down milking cups, flushing milk lines and machine AND taking much of it apart were relatively welcome chores - signifying the end was nigh. And it was such a blessedly clean job. Please be over, please, my aching body screamed, to nobody there except myself. What HAD I been thinking of? And myself had no plausible excuse, except over-indulgence at the party and uhrr, a death wish, surely?

The ultimate worst was still to come. The concrete holding yard waited for shovelling and squirting down with our high-powered hose; and inside the dairy and down through the milking pit. I could run, and I could hide, but there was no escaping the fact that what happened in the dairy (and the near outside), stayed in the dairy and baked on ever harder as the sun rose towards its zenith.

I’m sure you’ll excuse me if I don’t go there this time around? Believe me, once was truly enough!

(811 words)
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