November 2, 2016

I ran across a poem yesterday that made me laugh out loud, as it brought back all sorts of good memories.  My parents faithfully took our family each year to the South Dakota State Fair - and it goes without saying that a good time was had by all as we perused the 4-H exhibits, picked up all sorts of free souvenirs (Mother stocked up on wooden yardsticks) and finally made our way to the twinkling lights of the midway once we'd admired all the canned pickles and floral displays and quilts.

This summer my husband and I swapped out on of our Door County camping trips for a trip to the Iowa State Fair.  It had been over forty years since I'd attended one, and I was so excited! I may live in a city, but I've always been a farm girl at heart.  Well, a farm girl who still needs Starbucks and Barnes and Noble close by!

We had such fun admiring the 4-H exhibits.  I had always wanted desperately to be in 4-H, like my Indiana cousins, but there wasn't a club in my town when I was a girl.  I think my sisters were in one later, but alas, I never got to learn how to make a braided coffee cake or sew a dress or arrange a floral bouquet and earn a blue ribbon at the fair.

And as we strolled around the large agricultural exhibit building, what do you think we saw?  A butter cow!  Evidently it's famous at the Iowa State Fair, a fact I had not run across before.  And not only a butter cow, but also a butter Captain James Kirk and the crew of the Star Ship Enterprise!  Don't forget - James Kirk is going to be born in Riverside, Iowa in 2228!  

I had to laugh at this sign, remembering how my mother would always instruct me to make sure that I had buttered her toast all the way to the edges.  I tended to be a bit of a skimpy toast butterer when I was younger.  Don't worry, Mom, I've gotten much butter! (I mean better!)

So you can see why today's poem tickled my fancy, so to speak.  And yes, we did line up and file past Mr. Butter Cow as in a wake, although the conversation around us was much more lively and irreverent!


I’ve never seen the land
of milk and honey, but at

the Iowa State Fair I glimpsed
a cow fashioned of butter.

It lived behind a window
in an icy room, beneath klieg lights.

I filed past as one files
past a casket at a wake.

It was that sad: a butter cow
without a butter calf. Nearby I spied

a butter motorcycle, motorcycle-
sized, a mechanical afterthought

I thought the cow might have liked to ride.
You don’t drive a motorcycle; you ride it.

But not if you’re a butter cow, not
if you’re a butter cow who’s seen, if

not the land of milk and honey, the land
of milk, and dwelled within it.

It had a short life span, the butter cow.
Before it died, I looked

deep into its butter eyes. It saw
my butter soul. I could

have wept, or spread myself,
for nobody, across dry toast.

—Andrea Cohen, from Kentucky Derby

Have a wonderful, butter spread to the edge of your toast kind of day!