Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blue Umbrella

Do you know this song? Blue Umbrella? People think it is a John Prine song, because he sings it, but like some of the best John Prine songs, it is actually a Steve Goodman song. We thought about it today because it is raining for the first time in what seems like months, a melancholy nostalgic summer rain that reminds us of a melancholy nostalgic song.

"Blue Umbrella, rest upon my shoulder,
hide the pain while the rain makes up my mind,"

And anyway, Blue Umbrella is my youngest daughter's name. She is a beautiful yearling milker, a blue roan broken buckskin with blue eyes. With all that natural blue, Blue Umbrella seemed like a good name.

Yesterday the farmer was trying to teach the big milkers how to use the new milk bench. They have to run up a ramp, then duck through a hatch, then run along the bench in the next room - elevated about three feet off the floor - until they get to the end. Then they get their grain, and they get milked.

The farmer went and got Winnie to try with. Since she is a LaMancha she is supposed to be smart. But she's not that smart - after all she let the farmer catch her when she should have known she was the subject of an experiment. Her sister Ronny took off running - that's the one the farmer should have guinea-pigged on, if you ask me.

But anyway, Winnie couldn't get with the program, no matter how the farmer shook the grain can and dangled peanut butter wafers. Winnie just stood and bawled. She wouldn't even put a foot on the ramp, except by accident, and then she leaped backward like a bee had stung her.

"Oh, forget it," the farmer said, and went to get Betsy. Betsy loves food, so she was very tempted, but she is part Nubian, so the whole thing was a little bit Flowers-for-Algernon. Betsy wanted to come up the ramp. She just didn't know how. She stood and bawled.

Her daughters out in the pasture joined in the bawling. Triplicate bawling, and no progress toward the milk bench.

The farmer was exasperated, and running short on time, so turned Betsy out. When the farmer wasn't looking, Blue Umbrella nipped in the out door.

"Whuh?" said the farmer, catching a glimpse of Blue Umbrella rushing past.

Blue made a sharp left, ran up the ramp, ducked under the hatchway, ran along to the end of the milkbench, and plunked her head in the feeder.

That's how it's done, fat girls. Watch and learn.

"Just give me one good reason
and I promise I won't ask you any more
Just give me one extra season
so I can figure out the other four."

Blue Umbrella.