You see a road sign that says “Deer Crossing,” and you understand perfectly that this is where the deer cross. As you whizz past however, you can’t help but wonder how the deer know that. Before you’ve gone another mile (and because you went to college) the answer becomes soooo evident that you feel a bit sheepish. You realize that a truth which has eluded naturalists and un-naturalists for centuries is just another “Thank you, Captain Dumb Ball” to the boys and girls down at the highway department.
For that simple yellow sign proves beyond all doubt that deer can read. Astounding? Yes, but let’s not get carried away because it’s not true of all animals. Yesterday, cruising the back roads, we came upon a yellow sign that bore no words, just the silhouette of a black cow. Just the one cow. We exchanged raised left eyebrows which necessitated a simultaneous dropping of the right eyebrow—something we picked up at synchronized swimming.
So what was the hidden meaning implied in this cow icon? What were those savants down at highway engineering trying to say? Just a few yards past the sign we drew even with a field where a large black cow sat in the lush grass, calmly giving us the once-over. Just the one cow. Meanwhile, I noted that on the other side of the road stood a small cow barn. A one-cow barn, if you will. (If you won’t, go and stink for a thousand years.)
Let’s review: There, a one-cow barn; here, one black cow.
That’s when the penny dropped and I stooped to pick it up (metaphorically; I was driving). Consider that while it may be astounding that deer know how to read, it’s mind boggling that your basic, illiterate moo can make sense of iconic modern art. Anyway, we waved and I shouted “More cow bell!” We got a nice little nod of the head in return and onward did we roll.
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